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5 Reasons: Why Predators advanced

Pekka Rinne, top line, depth scoring helped Nashville sweep Chicago, move on to second round

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators completed the first best-of-7 sweep in their history on Thursday with a 4-1 win in Game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks in their Western Conference First Round series.

The Predators outscored the Blackhawks 13-3 in the series despite missing forward Colin Wilson (lower-body injury), who has 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in his past 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Here are five reasons the Predators advanced to the second round:



Rinne shut out the Blackhawks at United Center in the first two games and stopped 123 of 126 shots in the series.

Rinne had an up-and-down regular season but closed it out with a .923 save percentage in March and a .960 save percentage in April. He carried that strong play into the first round.

"Obviously any time as a player, you want to elevate your game coming into playoff time and the postseason, so I'm happy the way I played and my teammates played," Rinne said. "Now it's playoffs, so I'm excited."

Rinne also had two assists in the series.

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm4: Rinne keeps puck out through scramble



The first line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson was dominant offensively, combining for 15 points.

Johansen was perhaps as dominant as he's been in his time with the Predators. He led all skaters with six points (one goal, five assists) and limited the impact of Jonathan Toews throughout the series.

"He had a good year and played strong down the stretch for us," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "He wants that role. He wants to be that guy. I thought he had a good year, a really good year. I thought he played really, really good in the first round."

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm3: Forsberg nets second goal to tie game



The top four defensemen of the Predators and the versatility they have gave Laviolette options when matching up with the Blackhawks.

Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis spent a lot of time matched up against Patrick Kane's line, and Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban were matched against Toews. It took a while for Josi, Ellis, Ekholm and Subban to develop chemistry during the regular season, but they seemed to find their game toward the end and raised it to a new level in the first round.

"I thought we played really well toward the end of the season," Josi said. "We had our struggles early in the year, but toward the end of the season we played more consistent and carried it over into the playoffs."

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm4: Josi finishes passing play for second



Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala each scored two goals and Harry Zolnierczyk scored one. Josi and Ellis combined for three goals.

Johansen's line was responsible for the bulk of the offense in the series, but the secondary scoring made it more difficult for the Blackhawks to key on one line.

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm3: Fiala beats Crawford for OT winner



Not many people picked the Predators to win this series, but that didn't matter to them. They believed they were going to win and stayed on the attack even when they had leads in games.

"Just happy for the guys and the way we all played," captain Mike Fisher said. "You name it, everyone was kind of chipping in and doing their job. We might have surprised a lot of people, but probably not ourselves."

Video: CHI@NSH, Gm4: Preds advance, shake hands with Hawks

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