They did it again.
Pekka Rinne made 30 more saves and the Nashville Predators shutout the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-0, in Game Two to take a 2-0 series lead on Saturday night at the United Center. Goals from five different players gave the Preds a perfect start on the road in the postseason for the second consecutive year, sending them home having shut out the Blackhawks in back-to-back games, the first two road playoff shutouts in franchise history.
"We knew that we would play better [than we did in Game One]... and the guys did a great job tonight," Rinne said. "I think there was high execution, and again defensively, we played really strong."
Nashville took a 1-0 lead for the second consecutive game thanks to a Ryan Ellis point shot, the first postseason goal of his NHL career. As was the case in Game One, the Preds outplayed Chicago in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting their opponent 12-7.
The Predators were less than pleased with their second period in Game One. On Saturday night? Different story. Nashville added two more in the middle frame, courtesy of Harry Zolnierczyk and Colton Sissons, the first career playoff goals for both.
Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Sissons capitalizes on loose puck
Nashville then put things to bed in the third with Ryan Johansen making it 4-0, before Kevin Fiala added his first playoff goal for what stood to be the final score. And once more, Rinne did his thing in net, turning aside every single shot he faced.
"I've said it before, but I think as a team, we defend so well," Rinne said. "They box out, let me see the puck, and tonight, there wasn't probably one shot where I didn't see it. The guys have been doing a really good job in front of me, and personally too [I'm] feeling good, just seeing the puck pretty good right now."
On the contrary, Head Coach Peter Laviolette, while impressed with his team's play in front of Rinne, wasn't about to let the goaltender pass all the credit along.
"[Rinne's] lying, first of all," Laviolette quipped. "There were some unbelievable saves that he made, especially in the third period when the game is 3-0. At that point you're in a good spot, but you know the next goal is also a big goal and there were a couple of huge saves in there. I think, again, we know what they're capable of, and we're trying to hunker down defensively and do the right things."
Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Rinne stones Schmaltz, Kruger in front
As was the case one year ago in Anaheim, the Predators now head home with a 2-0 series lead after two triumphs away from home. And while the start is certainly encouraging, Nashville knows the series is still long from over.
"It's a long series," Ellis said. "It's not over, and if we want to continue on, we have a lot of hockey left to play. We have to be at our best all the time."
"It is a good feeling, coming into this building… and being up 2-0," Rinne said. "It's great, but we know what kind of team they have over there and we have to stay focused and stay on top of our game. But [it'll be] great to go in our building in front of our fans. It's going to be an awesome atmosphere."
Night of Firsts:
Ryan Ellis: first career postseason goal.
Harry Zolnierczyk: same thing.
Colton Sissons: yep.
Kevin Fiala: you get the idea.
All four players potted the first playoff goals of their careers in Game Two, a monumental effort that brought a blowout of the Hawks on their home ice.
Video: NSH@CHI, Gm2: Zolnierczyk goes bar-down on breakaway
"It was good to get a balance," Laviolette said. "We've been trying to roll the lines, and it was good to get a balance in scoring and get all the guys contributing."
A goal from Ellis - an offensive stud on the blue line - was probably going to come at some point. But come playoff time, markers from players on the bottom two forward lines are almost essential for success, and both Zolnierczyk and Sissons couldn't have come up any larger on Saturday night.
"It's always a special feeling when you can contribute and score a goal and help put your team ahead," Zolnierczyk said. "The other guys were excited as well that got theirs, and obviously we're just looking to stick to our game and create a some opportunities. We found a way to put a few in tonight."
"That's great to see," Rinne said. "These guys work so hard, and it's nice to see them getting rewarded."
Video: Rinne's 30-save shutout lifts Predators to Game 2 win
Forward Pontus Aberg recorded an assist on Colton Sissons's goal for his first career playoff point.
Pekka Rinne added two assists on the night, only the fourth goaltender in NHL history to record multiple assists in a single postseason game.
Five goals in a road playoff game is a franchise record for the Preds. Nashville is the fifth team in NHL history to begin a playoff series with consecutive road shutouts.
Fans are invited to welcome the team back to Nashville tomorrow, Sunday, April 16, at Signature Flight Support, located near Nashville International Airport, at approximately 12:30 p.m. CT.
The Predators will host Games Three and Four at Bridgestone Arena next week, beginning with Game Three on Monday night, an 8:30 p.m. CT start time. Game Four will take place on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena at 7 p.m. CT.
**For schedules, where to watch, giveaways and coverage of the Predators 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, visit the playoff hub**