It can only be defined as one of the greatest wins in Nashville Predators playoff history. I'm not trying to oversell this win, but when your franchise has never won on the road like Nashville, then that first one is quite big. It's even bigger since it occurred in a Game 1 since this is only the second time ever the Preds have taken a 1-0 lead in a playoff series. Nashville used a stellar 3rd period effort to propel themselves from down 1-0, to taking this game 4-1 in the United Center.
Felder’s FANTASTIC Five:
1. The Long Wait Is OVER - A road win in the playoffs. So simple, yet so tough for the Preds these past years. The biggest thing about this is the Preds can now stop focusing on that stat and move towards their next goal, a 1st round series win.
2. The ImPEKKAble Rinne - I think Pred fans will take that kind of performance from their goaltender any given night. Just a stellar effort from Peks. He sure didn't look nervous did he? Head down to the Goaltender Grade section for more on Mr. ImPEKKAble.
3. Dumont + Playoffs = Big Performances - J.P. Dumont is somewhat notorious for elevating his game in the 2nd half of the season, and then even more come post-season. Tonight was no different as Dumont tallied twice, the first goal of the night and the game winner. With those goals Dumont is now the all time goal leader for the Preds in post-season history. He's up to 6 goals in 12 games played and passed Alexander Radulov who had 5 goals in 10 games.
4. 3rd Period Magic - I don't think many people would have bet that the Preds would find a way to comeback on the Blackhawks tonight. It's not something the Preds are really known for this season. That said, with some magic and a little momentum the Preds did just that and found a way to win this game. Is this the sign of even better things to come? We shall see...
5. The Event Summary Stats - Some keys stats that were contributing factors to a Preds win: Both teams had 26 SOG. Nashville outhit Chicago 40-31. The Hawks had 7 giveaways compared to the Preds 5. Chicago had more takeaways by a 9-6 margin. Lastly, in what will probably become a familiar trend in the playoffs, both teams with double digit blocked shots. Nashville led that category as well with a 19-14 tally.
* Tonight’s scratches were Wade Belak, Dustin Boyd, Cal O'Reilly, and Denis Grebeshkkov. For Chicago, the scratches were Kim Johnsson, Nick Boynton, Bryan Bickell, Adam Burish, and Brian Campbell.
* 1ST PERIOD
* That was a feeling out period if I ever saw one. Preds took an early penalty (less than 60 seconds in by Klein) but killed it off. From there, some solid back and forth. Rinne made a STUNNING save on Patrick Sharp on a mini-breakaway. Niemi was equal to the task as well with a couple of very solid stops in close.
* END OF THE 1ST PERIOD – NSH: 0 CHI: 0. Positives - Pekka doesn't seem to be letting the playoff atmosphere get to him as he looks like normal. Preds did kill off the first CHI PP. Negatives - As expected in the entire series, Chicago leads SOG. The count thus far is just 10-7 so not a terrible start for the Preds. Hawks dominating the faceoff dot with a 63% winning percentage.
* 2ND PERIOD
* GOAL for CHICAGO - 10:17 to go. A missed pass at the blueline becomes a turnover. Through the neutral zone with speed comes the Blackhawks. Patrick Sharp takes it along the far wall, fires one on net, and Rinne gloves it unknowingly. Without realizing he still has the puck, as Rinne moves back towards the net the puck falls from his glove into the crease where Patrick Kane pounces and shovels it in for the first goal of the series. Driving the net and an odd man rush. Key things I discussed in the series preview. Kane (1) from Sharp (1) and Brent Sopel (1). Chicago takes the 1-0 lead midway thru the 2nd period.
* END OF THE 2ND PERIOD – NSH: 0 CHI: 1 .Positives - Pekka has been unbelievable despite giving up the goal. Without him it's probably 3-0 and not just down 1. Outhitting the Hawks 24-19 Negatives - Allowing quite a few scoring chances that period. Only 6 shots on goal compared to the Hawks 12 that frame. D is starting to let players go by without much resistance.
* 3RD PERIOD
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 18:29 to go. Moments after Steve Sullivan hit the post J.P. Dumont pots the Predators first goal of the series in an unconventional manner. Coming up the near boards he simply flipped a backhander towards the far post, stick side for Niemi. The puck was deflected by Duncan Kieth's stick it appeared and then somehow bounced in low stick side. The slo-mo replay I did showed that Niemi's right leg pad caught a piece and sent it from going just wide to the back of the net instead. Tough break for Niemi there to be honest and quite lucky for Nashville. Dumont (1) from Dan Hamhuis (1) and Cody Franson (1). This game is now tied at 1.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 9:23 to go. David Legwand took the puck right on net with a mini-breakaway after Brouwer lost the puck trying to take it out of his end. Smithson had the high pressure and Dumont poked the puck away and towards the Chicago net. Leggy picked it up all alone at the top of the faceoff circles, squared up Niemi, and then tested him low stick side. Antti Niemi mad the saves however Dumont poked the rebound up and it got caught under Niemi's blocker, deflecting down and in for the go-ahead goal. The Preds were finally getting strong pressure in the Chicago end and it paid off. Dumont (2) from Legwand (1). Preds take the unlikely 2-1 lead in Chicago.
* 1:12 left and Niemi is on the bench for the extra attacker.
* EMPTY NET GOAL for NASHVILLE - :48 seconds to go. Jerred Smithson ices this one from distance just above the Chicago blueline. Smithers was along the boards in the neutral zone and was helped by Marcel Goc creating some room for him to take the puck. Smithson (1) from Goc (1). Preds have the game at 3-1.
* :41 seconds left and Niemi reaches the bench again for the extra attacker.
* EMPTY NET GOAL for NASHVILLE - :13 seconds left. Martin Erat puts it the empty net at point blank range. Joel Ward takes a swipe at the puck, getting it out of the Preds end and into the neutral zone ice. David Legwand hits it from the near boards and gets enough of it to get the puck to Erat breaking in all alone. He slows up, makes sure, and deposits the puck from 1 foot out. Erat (1) from Legwand (2). Preds win 4-1.
2. Pekka Rinne - 25 saves on 26 shots against. Kept Nashville in this by keeping it close heading into the 3rd.
3. David Legwand - 2 primary assists, +3, team leading 5 SOG, and 2 hits.
Goalie Grade:A – The starting goaltender tonight was Pekka Rinne. Well, the Preds regular season MVP is starting things off right where he left them. A fantastic outing by Rinne who stopped 25 of 26 shots against. Can't fault him too much for the lone goal against since he was unaware his glove even had that burner of a shot from Sharp. Also, this game is nowhere near close if not for the first 40 minute effort from Rinne. He stole the show once again.
That was a HUGE win for the Nashville Predators. Not just because they took a 1-0 series lead, but more importantly for the Preds is that they won a playoff game on the road (1st time ever), actually trailed going into the 3rd and came back, and got themselves some huge momentum no matter what occurs on Sunday. Pred fans can't ask for much more from this one. Chicago fans on the other hand will be hoping their team's offense can solve the puzzle known as Pekka. Chicago played a solid game in my opinion and the lone fault in this one was the turnovers at their own blueline. Two Predators goals occurred from those. If Chicago cleans that up, then they will be right back where we expect them to be.
The Predators next game is Sunday night right back in Chicago. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM CST and the game can be seen on FS-TN again. I want to thank everyone that participated in the Cover It Live blog for Game 1. Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. The good news is that I will be doing the same thing for Game 2 so if you missed out you still have a chance to join in.
Till the next time, take care friends and enjoy the playoff hockey!
Questions, comments, and criticisms can be sent to [email protected] if you wish to contact me personally.