Wow! Just….wow! The Nashville Predators played a true complete playoff game last night in Game 2. They continued to frustrate the Chicago Blackhawks to the tune of a 5-0 win. Now they come home up 2-0 in a series. This is only the second time the Preds have led a series 2-0, both were started on the road. The first was last season against the Anaheim Ducks.
Nashville knew they would have to withstand some early pressure from the
Hawks in this and that is just what they did. Chicago had 3 golden chances to score early, but Pekka Rinne stood strong and shut the door. Then Ryan Ellis scored at the 3:44 mark of the 1st period to put the Preds up 1-0. Then Nashville struck early in the 2nd, when Mattias Ekholm hit Harry Zolnierczyk up the middle for a breakaway goal to put the Preds up 2. The line of Colton Sissons, Pontus Aberg and Craig Smith were rewarded later in the period as Sissons poked home a rebound to put Nashville up 3-0 at the break.
Chicago came hard early in the 3rd, reuniting the line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. They put up some early pressure and had a couple of really good chances to score, but once again Rinne saved the day. At 13:49 of the period, Filip Forsberg out-hustled a tired Brian Campbell to the puck, threw it off the side of the cage and it popped right out in front for Ryan Johansen to deposit into the net. Then with less than 2 minutes to play Kevin Fiala scored on the powerplay to end the scoring.
Pekka Rinne played another great game, getting his 2nd shutout in two games, stopping 30 shots along the way. He also added 2 assists as well. The depth scoring the Preds have had all year showed up as well. Four Predators scored their 1st career playoff goals tonight, Ellis, Zolnierczyk, Sissons and Fiala.
This series is far from over, but the Predators are playing perfect hockey right now and, at least for now, they are in the heads of the Blackhawks.
Game 3 is Monday, April 17th at 8:30pm CT in Nashville
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