The Nashville Predators head into United Center for Game Two tonight, holding a 1-0 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Game One saw the Preds come away with a 1-0 victory over the Hawks, thanks to a goal from Viktor Arvidsson and a 29-save shutout from Pekka Rinne, the first road shutout in franchise postseason history. After a stellar first period, Nashville held off a Chicago push in the second before the teams traded chances in the third prior to the horn.
With the opening contest now out of the way, both teams say they have a plenty to improve upon, but the Preds are well aware of what they're in for tonight.
"Our guys know that there's two things," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said in regard to Game Two. "One, we know we can and need to play better. And then two, we probably know we're up for the toughest game of the year."
Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg collected assist on the Arvidsson tally, the only three players with a point in the series thus far. Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 20 shots the Predators put on net in Game One.
As the Predators look to go up 2-0 on the road in Round One for the second consecutive postseason, here are three things to watch for:
Video: Predators know they need a better effort in Game 2
More to Give:
Sure, the Predators have the coveted 1-0 series lead over the Blackhawks, but the players and coach Laviolette spoke after Game One on the subject of continued improvement. Nashville knows they have more to give when it comes to consistent play and not sitting back against Chicago, a point of emphasis Laviolette hit on during his postgame presser on Thursday night.
"I thought our start was excellent - we did a lot of good things - but I thought we stopped skating and working [in the second period]," Laviolette said. "Those two things, if you do it against Chicago, it's going to be an ugly period. I thought we got going in skating a little better, competed a little better, tightened up defensively, and generated some chances offensively in the third. But definitely the first and the second period, they'll probably say the same thing, just one was good and one was not."
Video: Subban, Johansen and Ellis preview Game 2
Prior to Game One, members of the Preds spoke on their improved play away from Bridgestone Arena, an aspect that was admittedly absent earlier in the season. The effort in a hostile environment at the United Center is one to be admired, and it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that in order for the Predators to have a chance at winning this series, they were going to have to get at least one in Chicago.
They've taken care of that, and the chance to go home to what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere in Nashville with a 2-0 lead is appetizing, to say the least.
"It was a huge win," defenseman Matt Irwin said of Game One. "First game is huge, and to do it on the road, it sets ourselves up for an opportunity to take two and that's the goal. We have to step up our game and dictate the pace a little bit more, and I think we'll be able to do that."
Video: Laviolette says Preds are expecting the Hawks' best
Expect The Best:
The Predators know taking both games in Chicago to start the series would be a monumental accomplishment. But they're already halfway there, and tonight presents the opportunity to do just that. The test that awaits tonight could be the toughest the Preds have seen to date, and it's a challenge that Nashville can't wait to face.
"I expect to see their absolute best," Rinne said of the Blackhawks. "It's their home building, we know they're going to come hard and they're going to put a lot of bodies in front of the net and lot of shots. We have to expect the fast-paced game, but at the same time, we've got to focus on us, how to improve our game and how to stay confident and comfortable playing against these guys. We're in a good spot right now."
Take It In:
Game Two in Chicago comes with a 7 p.m. CT start time and will be shown exclusively in the United States on NBC. Pregame coverage on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network begins at 6 p.m.
Preds fans are invited to bring a chair or blanket to the Bridgestone Arena plaza at 6:30 p.m. to watch the game on a giant screen, purchase concessions and play family friendly games.
Or if you can't come down to the arena, catch the game at one of the many Preds Approved viewing locations throughout Middle Tennessee.
**For schedules, where to watch, giveaways and coverage of the Predators 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, visit the playoff hub**