Fifty wins in the regular season. Zero in the playoffs.
Jonathan Toews scored late in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a three-goal deficit as the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1, to complete a four-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs.
Roman Josi scored twice and Colton Sissons added another before Viktor Arvidsson put in an empty-netter for Nashville, who will play the winner of Minnesota and St. Louis in the second round. St. Louis leads the series 3-1.
It’s the second straight first-round exit for Chicago and the first time they’ve been swept in the opening round since 1993. The last time the Hawks had back-to-back first-round exits they won the Stanley Cup, so there’s a silver lining. Coincidentally, it’s the first-ever sweep in Nashville’s history.
Corey Crawford stopped 22 of 25 shots in the loss. Pekka Rinne was sensational all series long and made 30 saves in Game 4. He made 123 of 126 stops in the four-game series for a .976 save percentage.
Here’s how it happened:
Chicago didn’t get off to a great start with a penalty by Duncan Keith just 24 seconds in. The Preds had one good chance to score, but Crawford made a toe-save to keep the game scoreless.
Nashville dominated possession and shut down the Hawks offense until Brent Seabrook recorded Chicago’s first shot on goal at 5:18.
The Preds had another chance at the midway point when Henry Zolnierczyk and Mike Fisher had a 2-on-1 only to have a sprawling Brian Campbell break it up.
Nashville continued to control the tempo throughout the period. Artemi Panarin had a prime scoring chance in the waining seconds, but shot the puck wide and into Knoxville for a scoreless first frame.
Less than two minutes in, Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov generated a pair of scoring chances but Rinne came up big again.
Chicago’s fortunes turned around quickly when Jonathan Toews sent a pass in a Jay Cutler-like fashion directly to Filip Forsberg. Luckily, Crawford bailed him out.
Josi put the Preds on the scoreboard with a blast from the point with 10:19 left in the second. Ryan Johansen beat Marcus Kruger on an offensive zone faceoff then Ryan Ellis waited before sending a feed to Josi for the score.
Josi with a ripper. NSH up 1-0. pic.twitter.com/b3Pmsbaycp— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) April 21, 2017
After giving up the goal, the Hawks picked up the pace offensively to even shots at 20 apiece heading into the final 20 minutes.
The third period starts with a bang as Keith absolutely leveled Arvidsson on a clean hit.
Sissons gave the Preds a 2-0 lead near the midway point with a shot off the crossbar that felt into the net after Crawford backed into it.
Josi added his second of the game before Toews gave the Hawks some alive with his first playoff goal since the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
Arvidsson potted home an insurance goal on an empty-netter to send the Bridgestone Arena crowd into a frenzy.
SCH’s 3 Stars of the Game
1) Josi, Predators (2 goals)
2) Rinne, Predators (stopped 30 of 31 shots)
3) Arvidsson, Predators (1 goal, 1 assist)