Tuesday, 20 February, 2018

Pekka Rinne, Predators beat Blackhawks 1-0 in Game 1

Pekka Rinne, Predators beat Blackhawks 1-0 in Game 1 Pekka Rinne, Predators beat Blackhawks 1-0 in Game 1
Kristopher Love | 18 April, 2017, 03:02

ANAHEIM 3, CALGARY 2: Jakob Silfverberg scored the tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and captain Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist in the Anaheim Ducks' 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames in their first-round playoff series opener Thursday night. Facing a team that looks sharper, faster, hungrier. If this team can't overcome the setbacks and fall, they wouldn't have gone all the way, but if they show they have that determination the possibilities are endless. To be ruthless. To be unforgiving. They'll host Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN1, FS-TN, CSN-CH).

The Predators came out flying, taking advantage of a sluggish Blackhawks team who had been off for four days. The series is far from over, but the team needs to refocus in order to regain the championship swagger they've had in previous years. Statistically the Blackhawks and Predators were much closer than their gap in the points showed. Six days and three straight losses later that same bunch faced elimination.

But maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised that Nashville has been able to handle Chicago in the way they have through the first two games of the series. They're older, deeper and more prepared to take on these Blackhawks, the evidence of which has been abundantly clear through the first two games of the series.

Rinne's 120:00 streak without allowing a goal is a franchise record for the playoffs. Only two Western Conference teams had a better goal differential.

Rookies that were extremely effective during the regular seasons have struggled in the playoffs.

But in Game 1 of the series, a strong performance at 5-on-5 was nullified by Pekka Rinne - more on him in a second - and Game 2 saw the Predators get back to dominating the possession game and earning the bulk of the scoring opportunities. It was Nashville's second playoff win in Chicago in seven tries. The 20-year-old forward was playing on the fourth line and had just one goal in 18 career National Hockey League games before Saturday's playoff. Alas, the veteran netminder improbably and quite literally has two road shutouts in two nights against the Western Conference's top team. "That's the way hockey goes, I guess". It would be another thing altogether to do so in decisive fashion. Yes, hockey is already an inherently unsafe sport and yes, shots that don't get through to the net don't go in, but too much emphasis on shot-blocking just seems like a great way to get someone hurt. They should do everything possible to keep the series from even going back to Chicago.

Since Peter Laviolette replaced Barry Trotz behind the bench, the Predators have preached offensive pressure from every skater on the ice along with defensive responsibility. Toews hasn't scored since Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The upstart Oilers proved they last night they might not be ready for the spotlight; the Sharks and the Ducks are already battered and banged up; the Wild and Blues have had extended down periods (although for Minnesota that may have just been bad luck).