Sunday, April 16, 2017

Rinne, Predators Dominate Blackhawks, 5-0, Take 2-0 Series Lead

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)
Pekka Rinne recorded his second consecutive shutout as he and the Nashville Predators dominated the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-0 at the United Center to grab a 2-0 series lead in this best of seven series.

Not only did Rinne dominate in net stopping all 30 shots he faced, he added two assists in the game and has more points than Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have goals in their last 8 playoff games combined.

It took just 3:44 into the game for the Predators to find the back of the net as Ryan Ellis sent a slapshot from the point that Corey Crawford did not see as Viktor Arvidsson screened him in front of the net.  That is something that the Blackhawks have yet to do this series.

The Predators dominated play on the boards, won puck battles, and faceoffs.  the fourth line for the Predators continued to give the Blackhawks fits as Harry Zolniercyzk scored on a partial breakaway in the second period to extend the lead.

Blackhawks head coach, Joel Quenneville juggled lines constantly once again in order to find a connection that could solve the Predators defense.  The more he did this, the more the Blackhawks seemed out of sync.  Missed passes, blown coverages, slow line changes.

The Predators kept the game fast paced as the Blackhawks were chasing pucks after a while.  The Blackhawks had a hard time penetrating the Predators blue line as they constantly clogged up the neutral zone with four defenders.  When they did enter the zone, the Hawks had no chance to set up as the Preds constantly applied pressure.

Frustration kicked in at the end of the game when Ryan Hartman took a senseless penalty that gave him a roughing penalty along with a misconduct penalty as he checked Craig Smith in the head after he already knocked him to the ground.  To add insult to injury, as the score was already 4-0, Kevin Fiala capitalized on the power play to end the scoring, to make it 5-0.

The series is still a long way away from being over, but the Blackhawks have dug themselves deep.  They have a lot to do in order to get out.  This team has done it before, but can they do it again?


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