Preds shut down Hawks again, take 2-0 series lead
CHICAGO — One year ago, former Predators captain Shea Weber surveyed the team’s 2-0 first-round series lead against the Anaheim Ducks, the first such advantage in franchise history.
Two road wins to open the playoffs had to mean something, right?
“Nothing yet, to be honest,” said Weber when asked.
Weber is gone, but his former teammates, who celebrated Nashville’s 5-0 Game 2 victory against the bewildered Blackhawks on Saturday, are in the same position to the surprise of practically everybody.
So let’s ask the same question. What does this mean? It means that the Predators return to Nashville with history on their side. NHL teams with 2-0 leads in best-of-seven series win them more than 86 percent of the time.
Then again, it won’t mean anything unless the Predators use Bridgestone Arena to their advantage Monday and Thursday. To Weber’s point, the Predators wasted their two-game advantage last season by losing three consecutive games to the Ducks. Here’s what we do know — Nashville’s execution of its game plan Saturday, combining aggressive offense and smothering defense, was the team’s finest this season.
“The toughest game of the year” is what Predators coach Peter Laviolette prepped his team for. Beware and weather the Blackhawks’ first-period Game 1: Nashville 1, Chicago 0 Game 2: Nashville 5, Chicago 0 Monday: at Nashville, 8:30 p.m. Thursday: at Nashville, 7 p.m. x - Saturday: at Chicago, TBA x- Monday, April 24: at Nashville, TBA x- Wednesday, April 26: at Chicago, TBA x - If necessary ferocity, he told his players. Chicago took three shots and hit one post in the opening three minutes, then Nashville jabbed back on defenseman Ryan Ellis’ long-range goal, aided by forward Viktor Arvidsson’s Matrix-like screen.
There would be no repeat of Thursday’s second-period fire drill Saturday. The Predators surged, adding a pair of first-time playoff goals to Ellis’ from the first period. Blackhawks fans spelled Predators forward Harry Zolnierczyk’s tongue-twisting last name with four-letter unprintable words after his top-corner breakaway tally, then groaned when forward Colton Sissons poked a rebound through Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, apparently figuring that the NHL’s first consecutive shutouts to open a playoff series in seven years weren’t enough, threw in two assists.
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Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons celebrates his goal with right wing Craig Smith (15) in the second period of Game 2 in their first-round playoff series at the United Center on Saturday in Chicago.