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Predators hoping lessons learned entering Game 3

Nashville knows it must avoid reoccurrence of last year, build on 2-0 series lead against Blackhawks on Monday

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators are hoping to have history not repeat itself in the Western Conference First Round against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Predators have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series after winning the first two games at United Center in Chicago. They'll host Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TVA Sports, SN1, FS-TN, CSN-CH).

They were in the same position during the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks, winning the first two games of the series at Honda Center in Anaheim and returning home with a 2-0 lead. But the Predators lost the next three games before winning the series in seven games.

 

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A large portion of the current roster went through that experience against the Ducks and want to make sure they don't squander their series lead against the Blackhawks in the same way.

"We had the exact same position last year and I think a lot guys were there," Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "I think we learned from it. I think everyone knows that it's one game at a time. We've got a good start but we've done nothing yet. The mindset has got to be the same as we've had as before these two games."

The Predators have gained valuable playoff experience during the past two seasons, but they never have taken a 3-0 series lead.

"The playoffs are a lot about experience," center Ryan Johansen said. "We were in the same situation last year with mainly the same group so we'll definitely use the experience from last year in Anaheim going up 2-0 and make sure we can find a way to take care of business at home."

The Predators have been able to stifle the Blackhawks offense in the first two games of the series. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has two consecutive shutouts, and they've blocked 41 shots.

"I think the No. 1 thing is desperation," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "We've had that every second of every game and we have to continue that. I think the team that shows the most desperation and is able to execute with that mentality will have the most success."

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

The Predators expect a high desperation level from the Blackhawks in Game 3 and know they'll need to match it. They have been able to shut down Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews through the first two games and know they'll have to do that again. Kane and Toews have combined for 14 shots on goal in the two games.

"I think we have to continue to make it tough on them, and it's not an easy thing to do," Subban said. "Those guys are world-class players that have had a lot of success, both in the postseason and the regular season. For those guys, it's been tough. It's been tough on our [defense] and our forwards tracking back to try to limit their opportunities. All you can try to do is contain them the best way you can."

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