The Chicago Blackhawks will be virtually in desperation mode when they take the ice Monday against the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Chicago has been unable to solve Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who has recorded back-to-back shutout performances for the Predators to take a 2-0 series lead. It’s a deficit many see too big for the Hawks to dig themselves out of. The Hawks, surprisingly for how dominate they’ve been this decade with three Stanley Cups since 2010, have been in this situation before against a Central Division foe in the first round.
It’s April 19, 2014 and the Hawks are dealt their second straight overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. Frustration is boiling across the fanbase as the Hawks’ biggest rival, the little brother, as taken a 2-0 series lead. The Hawks would rally to win four straight to advance to the second round.
While the Hawks are only three years removed from coming back from a 2-0 series deficit there’s one difference in the two series — home-ice advantage. The Hawks returned to the United Center in 2014 and won Games 3 and 4 at home then traveled south to St. Louis for Game 5 before taking the series in Game 6 in Chicago. This year, they’ll have to win two road games to win the series to advance.
So, how have the Hawks faired at Bridgestone Arena?
Chicago won the five-game regular-season series, 4-1, against the Predators, which included a 2-1 record in the Music City. The Hawks dropped their season opener 3-2 in Nashville then won 3-2 in late December and 5-3 in March at Nashville.
For all it’s yellow fever, Bridgestone Arena nor any road game hasn’t been too difficult a task for the Hawks this season. Chicago was tied for the second-best road record in the league at 24-13-4.
For Nashville, it’s a bit of deja vu from last spring heading into Game 3. The Predators took its franchise’s first-ever 2-0 series lead — with two road wins — over Anaheim. Nashville then dropped Games 3 and 4 at home and Game 5 in Anaheim to trail 3-2 in the series. The Predators would rally to win the series in seven games.
While Nashville did claw its way back into the series, the Hawks are focused on the scoreline from the Predators’ Game 3 loss — 3-0. It’s a similar result that Chicago produced in its Game 3 three years ago with a 2-0 shutout win over St. Louis.
The Hawks sure hope this year’s 2-0 series deficit ends like it did in 2014.