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5 Keys: Blackhawks at Predators, Game 3

Nashville looking to take 3-0 series lead; Chicago trying to find its offense

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent


9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN1, FS-TN, CSN-CH

Nashville leads best-of-7 series 2-0

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators have an opportunity to take a 3-0 series lead for the first time ever against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round.

The Predators won the first two games at United Center and return to Bridgestone Arena, where they were 24-9-8 during the regular season.


Here are 5 keys for Game 3:


1. Get on the board

The Blackhawks, who have been shut out in the first two games of the series, are looking to start strong in Game 3. An early goal would help them settle in and play their game.

"We're not where we want to be or where we would have said we'd have wanted to be at the start of the series," captain Jonathan Toew said. "But I think everyone learns to deal with it, and I think the young guys, too, are just maybe getting their feet under them and understanding that now we can be loose, we can go out there and play the way we know we can play and try to put the pressure on them in their building. Just focus on the little things and focus on taking things one thing at a time and not worry about trying to climb any mountain or trying to accomplish everything at once."


[RELATED: Complete Blackhawks-Predators series coverage]


2. Pekka Rinne's prowess

The Predators became the fifth NHL team with road shutouts in the first two games of the postseason, joining the 1936 Detroit Red Wings, the 1983 Buffalo Sabres, the 1995 New Jersey Devils and the 2001 Toronto Maple Leafs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

In addition to his back-to-back shutouts, Rinne became the first goalie with two assists in a playoff game since Jose Theodore of the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Rinne robs TVR, sprawls to deny rebound


3. Road warriors

The Blackhawks were 24-13-4 away from United Center during the regular season, the most road wins in the Western Conference.

They will try to build on that road success in Game 3. The Blackhawks went 2-1-0 at Bridgestone Arena during the regular season and will have to win at least two games on the road this series if they are going to advance.


4. Star power

The Blackhawks will rely on star players like Toews and forward Patrick Kane to pull them out of the hole they've dug in the series. Toews and Kane have combined for 14 shots on goal in the series but have yet to score.

"I think as we go deeper in playoffs … I should say in a series, our team rises to a bigger challenge," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think our best players are going to need to step it up. Not just them; everybody's going to have to step it up. We should expect more from one another. As you move along, our team needs to be better in a lot of ways."

Nashville forward Filip Forsberg and defenseman P.K. Subban have combined for three assists in the series but have yet to score on a combined nine shots on goal. 

Video: NSH@CHI, Gm1: Arvidsson tips in Forsberg's dish


5. Seize the moment

The Predators have never defeated the Blackhawks in a playoff series, losing in 2010 and 2015. Now they have an opportunity to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. They had a 2-0 series lead against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2016 Western Conference First Round after winning the first two games at Honda Center in Anaheim but lost Games 3 and 4 at home.

The Predators hope to learn from that experience.

"I think we're looking to just stay consistent," forward Harry Zolnierczyk said. "Obviously, we wanted to improve for Game 1, and I think we took a step in doing that in Game 2. Just moving forward we're going to look to keep improving. There's parts of the game that we still need to get better in, and obviously we're expecting probably the best from Chicago tonight. We'll have to make sure we're ready for that."


Blackhawks projected lineup

Nick Schmaltz -- Jonathan Toews -- Richard Panik

Artemi Panarin -- Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Dennis Rasmussen -- Marcus Kruger -- Marian Hossa

Ryan Hartman -- Tanner Kero -- Jordin Tootoo

Duncan Keith -- Niklas Hjalmarsson

Johnny Oduya -- Brent Seabrook

Brian Campbell -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Gustav Forsling, Jeff Glass, John Hayden, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tomas Jurco, Michal Kempny

Injured: Andrew Desjardins (lower body), Michal Rozsival (facial bone)


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Calle Jarnkrok -- James Neal

Pontus Aberg -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith

Harry Zolnierczyk -- Mike Fisher -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Anthony Bitetto, Brad Hunt, Vernon Fiddler, Cody McLeod, PA Parenteau, Miikka Salomaki

Injured: Colin Wilson (lower body)


Status report

Tootoo is expected to return to the lineup after being scratched for Game 2. … Wilson did not participate in the morning skate and is expected to miss his fifth consecutive game.


Who's hot

Rinne has stopped all 59 shots he's faced in the first two games of the series. Johansen has four points (one goal, three assists) in the series. 

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