CHICAGO – Pekka Rinne made 29 saves, Viktor Arvidsson scored in the first period and the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
Rinne's second career postseason shutout sent Nashville to just its second playoff win in Chicago in seven tries. The Predators did not have a 1-0 victory during the regular season.
Game 2 is Saturday night at the United Center.
Corey Crawford had 19 saves for Chicago, which got center Artem Anisimov back from a leg injury that sidelined him for the last part of the season, but struggled to find many good looks against a sound defensive performance by Nashville.
The Blackhawks, who won the Central Division this year with the most points in the Western Conference, are going for their fourth Stanley Cup championship in the last eight seasons. They eliminated Nashville during two of those title-winning runs, including in 2015 when the Predators blew leads of 3-0 in Game 1 and 3-1 in Game 6 of their first-round series.
This time, they held on — thanks to a super performance by Rinne.
Chicago controlled most of the last two periods, but Nashville blocked several shots from the perimeter and got in the passing lanes when the Blackhawks tried to find a better opportunity. The few times they managed to get open, Rinne was there.
After Ryan Johansen was sent off for delay of game 9 seconds into the second, Rinne denied Patrick Kane and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the resulting power play. Ryan Hartman found Marian Hossa on a counter midway through the second, but he wasn't able to get much on the shot and Rinne turned the rush away.
The Predators killed off another power play in the third and then kept the Blackhawks away from the net after they pulled Crawford with 1:55 remaining
Boosted by a raucous, red-clad crowd of 22,075, the Blackhawks got off to a fast start. But the Predators eventually started to control the action, and their high-scoring top line of Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg took the air out of the United Center with one nice sequence.
Even with three Blackhawks in the area, Johansen managed to play the puck over to Forsberg in the high slot. Forsberg then threw it toward the net and Arvidsson tipped it by Crawford at 7:52.
It was Arvidsson's fourth goal in his last four games against Chicago. The speedy winger set career highs with 31 goals and 30 assists in a breakout performance this season.
Arvidsson nearly picked up a second goal in the first, but he was denied by Crawford on a prime opportunity with 4:22 left. He also had a backhander go off the crossbar with about 4 minutes in the third.
NOTES: Predators F Colin Wilson was scratched with a lower-body injury. Wilson had 12 goals and 23 assists this season. ... The Blackhawks recalled G Jeff Glass from Rockford of the AHL. Glass was inactive as the team's third goalie.
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