Preds shut down Hawks again, take 2-0 se­ries lead

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports - ADAM VINGAN

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.

Reach Adam Vingan at avin­gan@ten­nessean.com and on Twit­ter @AdamVin­gan.

AN­DREW NELLES / THE TEN­NESSEAN

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.

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