Nashville Completes Series Sweep for First Time, Advances to Second Round for Second Consecutive Year
by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
Break out the brooms.
Led by two goals from Roman Josi and another stellar performance from Pekka Rinne, the Nashville Predators completed the first sweep in franchise history, knocking off the Chicago Blackhawks in four straight games and winning Game Four, 4-1.
For the second consecutive postseason, the Preds have punched their ticket to Round Two, awaiting the winner of the St. Louis/Minnesota series, and it only took them four games to do so.
“I’m just happy for the guys and the way we played,” Captain Mike Fisher said. “Everyone just kind of chipping in and doing their job. We surprised a lot of people, but not ourselves.”
The Predators came out flying, and if it weren’t for solid play from Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, could’ve easily had a couple in the first period. Just like in Game Three, however, the opening 20 minutes were scoreless, but this time, it was Nashville who broke through first.
Mere seconds after a Smashville Standing Ovation, Ryan Ellis fed Roman Josi whose shot found the five hole of Crawford to give the Preds a coveted 1-0 lead, a score that held through the second stanza.
Chicago had their chances, but when a Colton Sissons shot hit the post and bounced in off of Crawford, followed by Josi’s second less than two minutes later, all hope was lost for the Hawks. The visitors broke Rinne’s shutout with less than six minutes to play, but Viktor Arvidsson sealed it when he walked the puck into an empty net before the final horn.
“It just speaks to the character and the determination everybody put into this series,” forward Austin Watson said. “We knew we had to play 60 minutes every single night, if not more. Everybody pulled their rope, everybody did what they needed to do and we were able to walk away with a win.”
The Preds don’t yet know if they’ll face the Wild or the Blues in the Second Round, nor do they know when the series will commence, but there is one certainty that Head Coach Peter Laviolette addressed after the sweep
“When we wake up tomorrow morning, we’re hardly into this… there’s a lot of work left to do,” Laviolette said. “”It’s good to win a series… but I promise you this, the next round will be even harder than this one.”
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, anything is possible. Like the top team in the Western Conference seeing their postseason hopes squashed by the last seed in the West.
But it happened on Thursday night in Nashville, as the Predators completed the first sweep in franchise history, outplaying, outscoring and outlasting a Chicago team that has won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years.
Indeed, there is still plenty of work to be done if the Preds hope to keep advancing, but this is a darn good start.
“It’s great to be on the winning side after we lost two years ago,” Josi said. “They’ve been such a great organization the past couple years and a great team. It’s a lot of fun for us, I thought we played really well. [Rinne] was unbelievable in the whole series, he was definitely one of the difference-makers.”
The work of Rinne was arguably the top reason for the result, as the Finn turned aside 30 shots in Game Four, a grand total of 123 shots out of 126 turned aside through four contests.
“It’s pretty good going 4-0 against Chicago,” Rinne said. “I’m feeling good. Felt confident throughout the series… We were able to find a way to win a game every single night, so that speaks volumes of these guys. ”
Timely scoring, fortunate bounces and a raucous Nashville crowd all played into it as well, and the Preds know they’ll need plenty more of that as they hope to keep playing hockey for the foreseeable future.
“Right now, I don’t really care who we play against,” Rinne said. “If we can keep this up, I feel really confident facing anybody. Right now, we have a little bit of a break, we have to maintain our focus and think the kind of thoughts we’ve been having.”
The Predators will face either Minnesota or St. Louis in Round Two of the Western Conference bracket with dates and times to be announced at a later date. No matter what, Nashville would start on the road for Games One and Two before returning home for Games Three and Four.
Round Two tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking here.