The Predators shellacked the Blackhawks, 5-0, on Saturday night, taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the series, and becoming just the third team to blank Chicago in back-to-back home playoff games all-time (also Montreal in 1960 and St. Louis in 2002). Sure, in terms of the standings, the two teams weren't all that close- the Blackhawks were the West's best, the Predators the second wild-card team - but on-ice, the thought was the series would be much closer than some expected.
Dion Phaneuf, Senators - Ottawa's game-two hero equalled one-fifth of his career playoff production in one game with a three-point performance, including scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.
Although the Blackhawks' outshot the Predators by a narrow margin of 30-29, the Predators' speed and physicality prevailed.
The Blackhawks had worked the crowd into a frenzy with a strong opening few minutes, but as Ellis' shot from the point hit the back of the net, the crowd of 22,175 went from delirious screams to a collective, "Oh". The Hawks also had multiple point-blank chances that Rinne gobbled up. Ellis connected from almost 60 feet out after getting his first shot blocked by a member of Chicago. Jonathan Toews hasn't scored a goal since Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup final and has managed just five shots in the series. The Blackhawks are currently down 2-0 in the seven game series with the Predators now gaining home ice advantage.
At least the Blackhawks seem to understand that after the game.
An effort such as this isn't representative of a veteran team that's won three Stanley Cups since 2010. It was Nashville's second playoff win in Chicago in seven tries. This thing's not over yet. To think it wouldn't would buck the trend of what we've seen so far. "I tried to get as much on it and luckily it found a way through". The Predators defeated the Blackhawks 5-0.
To say the Blackhawks have been outplayed is an understatement.
Game 3: Penguins at Blue Jackets, 6 p.m. ET, CNBC (Penguins lead 2-0) - Minus suspended Matt Calvert, the Blue Jackets return to Columbus pressing to avoid a 3-0 series deficit. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane finished the regular season tied for second in the National Hockey League with 89 points, yet hasn't registered a single point in two games this postseason.
Quenneville said he wanted to see more traffic in front of the net in Game 2 to make Rinne's job hard. If it swings the opposite direction, the Predators could possibly find themselves in a familiar situation they saw exactly 12 months ago.
The Predators started quickly in Game 1 and never looked back. Additionally, an extra option or two on the rush should help the Blackhawks overcome the neutral zone disruption employed by their opponents. Just 3 minutes, 44 seconds into the game, the visitors scored when Ryan Ellis blasted a rocket from the blue line past goalie Corey Crawford, who was screened.
Ryan Ellis, Harry Zolnierczyk, Colton Sissons, Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala each scored for the Predators. Should that continue, Nashville is in pretty good shape offensively.
Chicago has their backs against the wall after a Game 1 loss.
Scoring their first goal against Pekka Rinne this postseason would be a good start. Advice for the Preds? "We'll get things corrected, we'll be better". It's the second time the franchise has been shut out in the first two games in a playoff series.
Pekka Rinne made 30 saves and is a flawless 59 of 59 so far this postseason, becoming the first goalie since 2010 with consecutive shutouts to open a playoff series after helping the Predators shut out the Blackhawks 5-0 on Saturday.