The Blackhawks Forgot To Show Up For Playoffs

20 Apr, 2017

The Nashville Predators completed the first Stanley Cup Playoff sweep in their history with a 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

The Predators advanced to second round for the fourth time and will play either the St. Louis Blues or Minnesota Wild.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Nashville defenseman Roman Josi said. “I thought we played a great series. That’s a great team over there, and we’ve got a lot of respect for them. They’ve got some world-class players, and I thought we played really well in all of those four games.”

Chicago clinched the top seed in the Western Conference on an off day April 1. The Blackhawks did not win another game, losing eight in a row (final four of regular season, four in playoffs).

“Give them credit,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They played great. I still think we didn’t push in a lot of areas. We could have had the puck a lot more in a lot of situations, lost lots of those 1-on-1 or those individual battles, relentless around the net, missing shots, missing pucks. I think that was contagious. We had to be better.”

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne made 30 saves and allowed three goals in the series. He made 123 saves for an 0.70 goals-against average and .976 save percentage.

“I’m feeling good,” the 34-year-old said. “I felt confident throughout the series. I thought that Games 1 and 3 especially, [were] huge wins momentum-wise. Getting the first road game and then the first game at home, that overtime game (a 3-2 win Monday), I think that was a difference in the series. We found a way to win a game every single night.”

Josi gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 9:41 of the second period on a one-timer from above the right faceoff circle. His shot got through traffic and beat Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford five-hole.

Colton Sissons gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 8:52 of the third period on a shot from the slot. It hit the post, bounced off Crawford’s back and into the net.

Josi gave the Predators a 3-0 lead at 10:21. Sissons took a pass from Austin Watson and slid the puck to Josi, who beat Crawford for his second goal of the playoffs.

“When you start something, you don’t sit there and plan to sweep,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “You don’t sit there and plan a shutout. You plan a game plan to go out and how you want to play. I thought our guys played really well. I thought they executed it really well.”

Jonathan Toews scored on the power play at 14:42 of the third period make it 3-1, before Viktor Arvidsson made it 4-1 on an empty-net goal with 1:48 left.

St. Louis leads Minnesota 3-1 in their best-of-7 series with Game 5 on Saturday.

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