Pekka Rinne stopped all 29 shots he faced and Viktor Arvidsson scored to lead the Nashville Predators to a 1-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series in the Western Conference quarterfinals Thursday at United Center.
It’s only the second home playoff loss in Hawks’ franchise history to Nashville. The Hawks last home playoff loss against Nashville came in Game 1 of the 2010 quarterfinal series. Chicago would go on to win the series, 4-2, and the Stanley Cup that year.
Chicago continued its struggles after long lay offs. The Hawks were 1-5-0 in the regular season when they had more than three days off between games. Thursday’s game was the first game for Chicago since April 8 in Los Angeles.
Corey Crawford made 19 saves in the loss.
Here’s how it happened:
Six minutes in, Artemi Panarin created a scoring by passing the puck off the boards to get into the offensive zone before putting a shot on net.
The Predators responded with the game’s first goal. Johansen fought off Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews and rookie Nick Schmaltz near the Hawks’ blue line to keep the play alive before Arvidsson redirected Filip Forsberg’s shot past Crawford on a deflection for a 1-0 lead at 7 minutes, 52 seconds.
How not to play defense by the Chicago Blackhawks: pic.twitter.com/56qF8aIeYY— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) April 14, 2017
It was Arvidsson’s second postseason goal in his career. His first was an overtime winner in Game 6 of last year’s second round series against San Jose.
The Hawks struggled with zone transitions which resulted in brief puck possession as they failed to record a shot on net for 13:47 before Keith put a shot from center ice on net with about five seconds left in the period.
The second frame got off to a slow start when Ryan Johansen sent the puck out of play nine seconds in. Chicago was unable to create a significant scoring chance on the man advantage.
The Hawks would switch Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz, giving the former top-line playing time. Schmaltz would eventually be benched until returning late in the period.
Marian Hossa nearly put the Hawks on the scoreboard near the midway point. Rookie Ryan Hartman blocked a shot which led to a breakaway chance for Hossa, but he fanned on the shot attempt.
The Hawks controlled play throughout the second by outshooting Nashville 11-6, but could not solve Rinne.
Kero remained on the top line with Hossa and Toews to start the third.
Anisimov had the Hawks’ best scoring chance when he had a point-blank opportunity in front, however, he fired it wide.
Arvidsson was called for tripping on Anisimov for a Hawks’ power play at 11:52. Moments later, the advantage nearly turned into a 5-on-3 situation when Roman Josi sent the puck over the glass.
The officials gathered together to discuss whether a penalty needed to be called and they decided the puck redirected off Panarin’s stick before heading into the stands. Chicago failed to capitalize on the advantage and the Preds held on for the win.
SCH’s 3 Stars of the Game
1) Rinne, NSH (stopped 29-of-29 shots)
2) Arvidsson, NSH (1 goal, team-high four shots)
3) Anisimov, CHI (Two shots, 62 percent on faceoffs)
The Hawks play Game 2 of the best-of-seven series against Nashville at 6 p.m. Saturday at United Center.