Photo: Blackhawks Facebook
Viktor Arvidsson scored the first and only goal of the game in the first period.
Goalie Pekka Rinne made 29 saves in the victory. The Blackhawks outshot Nashville 29-20, including 23-9 in last two periods.
“We did a really good job messing up their systems and didn’t give them too much flow,” Rinne said. “They like to play with a lot of speed and puck possession, and we did the right things on the ice. I think that’s a credit for us to interrupt their style of play.”
That they did. It wasn’t just Rinne’s saves. The Preds blocked 26 shots in the game.
It’s not as if Chicago wasn’t putting on the pressure. Their opponents just had their game down.
Patrick Kane said they’ll need to adjust for Game Two.
“It looks like they’re kind of playing a 1-4 in the neutral zone, which is fine. We’re going to have to find ways to fight through that and more than likely, that comes with dumping the puck and hopefully getting pucks back, making them play in their end. We had some good shifts, had some good chances, didn’t really materialize the Grade-A we really wanted.”
“Fancy stats” seem to back that concept.
— Jack Han (@ml_han) April 14, 2017
Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews had no excuses:
“I don’t think there’s any excuse in the book that you can throw out there that would stand its ground. It’s the first game of the playoffs. We should have a better start than we did tonight, but sometimes there’s some nerves and you need to shake things off.”
Really it came down to not being able to permeate Nashville’s defense. All of the Hawks’ plays were passes and shots that were easy to block or easy to stop.
They need to be at the net. They need screens, deflections, gritty goals.
‘‘Going into every game, we always talk about [getting] to the net. The goalies are too good. They’re too big. If they see the puck, they’re going to stop it.”
Quenneville has taken the Blackhawks to the playoffs 22 times. Their record in Game Two after losing Game One is 6-3, and they’re 5-4 in series’ where they lost the first game.
- Last year, they lost Game One against the Blues, ultimately losing the series 4-3 on a late Game Seven goal.
- In 2015, they lost Game One to the Ducks, then came back for a 4-3 series lead and the Stanley Cup Championship.
- In 2014, the Blackhawks lost to the Blues in the first two games, then came back with four wins, ultimately losing to the Los Angeles Kings.
- In 2012, the Blackhawks lost Games One, Three, and Four to the Coyotes, who ultimately lost the conference finals to the Kings.
- In 2011, Vancouver took Game One and, finally Game Seven, before a Stanley Cup Final loss in Game Seven. There were riots.
- In 2010, the Hawks fell behind Vancouver 5-1 in Game One, then finished the series in six.
- In 2010, the Hawks lost Game One 4-1 to the Predators before taking Games Two, Five, Six, and Seven and ultimately winning the Stanley Cup Championship against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- In 2009, the Red Wings won Games One, Two, Four, and Five.
As for Game Twos, they’ve only lost the first two games three times of the 22: 2009 versus Detroit, who lost to the Penguins in the Final; 2011 versus Vancouver, who lost to the Bruins in the Final; and 2014 against the Blues, when the Blackhawks won the next four straight and ultimately lost to the Kings in the Final.
While that is interesting, none of it matters tonight.
“He definitely saw a lot of the shots. We didn’t make it too hard on him. He had a shutout, but it probably wasn’t the hardest shutout he had in his life,” Ryan Hartman told press. “I just think we need to get more pucks to the net.”
The Blackhawks will need to steal comfort back from Nashville if they want to even the series at home.
Because it’s the Cup.
The rest of the series schedule:
- Blackhawks vs. Predators 7 p.m. C.T. Saturday, April 15, on NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
- Blackhawks at Predators 8:30 p.m. C.T. Monday, April 17, on CNBC, SN ONE, TVA Sports
- Blackhawks at Predators 7 p.m. C.T., Thursday, April 20, on SN 360, TVA Sports
- If needed:
- Blackhawks vs. Predators, TBD, Saturday, April 22, TBD
- Blackhawks at Predators, TBD, Monday, April 24, TBD
- Blackhawks vs. Predators, TBD, Wednesday, Aptil 26, TBD