Nashville Will Try for the First Sweep in Franchise History and Look to Eliminate Chicago
by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
Already with a 3-0 series lead for the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators will try to accomplish another first tonight as they look to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks. Game Four of the Western Conference Round One series comes this evening at Bridgestone Arena, a building that has seen three consecutive postseason overtime victories by the home team.
The most recent of those came in Game Three on Monday night, when the Preds rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, before Kevin Fiala ended it shortly after midnight. Filip Forsberg potted both tallies in the third for his first two goals of the postseason, and Pekka Rinne stopped 34 shots in total to put his team up 3-0.
But the Predators know their opponent isn’t done yet.
“I’m a believer that momentum doesn’t work for you,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Desperation usually rules the day, so we’re going to need to be a desperate hockey team. We need to play a really good hockey game.”
Ryan Johansen leads the Preds with four assists and five points through three games, followed by Forsberg who has four points. Fiala is tied with Forsberg for the team lead in goals with two each; Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis each have a goal and an assist. Rinne has stopped 93 of 95 shots in total during the series, going 3-0 and posting a stellar .979 save percentage.
Chicago scored their first two goals of the series in Game Three, courtesy of Patrick Kane and Dennis Rasmussen. Corey Crawford has been in net for all three contests thus far.
As the Predators look to conclude their participation in Round One and sweep Chicago, here are three things to watch for:
Desperation vs. Desperation:
With their season on the brink, the Blackhawks are sure to come with their most desperate brand of hockey tonight. On the contrary, the Predators also plan on approaching tonight in the same fashion – one more win and they’re onto the Second Round. Give Chicago a win, and the Hawks have some hope. Nashville would much prefer to end the night with a handshake line rather than making travel plans for Game Five.
“It’s the Chicago Blackhawks – they’re not dead until the series is over, until we have that fourth win,” forward Harry Zolnierczyk said. “We’re not going to approach this game any different. We’ll approach it just like we wanted to approach Game One and Two and Three. We’re looking to eliminate these guys as quick as we can.”
Nashville’s top trio of Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson have made things happen all series long for the Preds, and they show no signs of stopping. If Nashville is to win their fourth tonight, these three will likely have something to do with it.
“Since the line got put together – midway through the season – I think we’ve just been building and building throughout the year,” forward Filip Forsberg said. “We want to play our best hockey right now, and we have to. Chicago is playing really well right now. We’re going to have to improve even more, and we’re looking forward to doing that. I think all three of us just take a lot of pride in trying to get better and trying to work hard.”
The atmosphere for any playoff game in Smashville is always off the charts. But with the variables in play tonight, the home crowd might play a role once more – just like they did in Game Three.
“It lifts us up,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said of the fans. “It’s an uplifting feeling and you try to use that energy and take it to your advantage, try to gain momentum. It doesn’t matter how the game is going, they’re always on our side and it’s a good feeling.”
Nashville, TN – April 17: A Nashville Predators fan takes a swing at a Chicago Blackhawks themed car prior to Game Three of the Western Conference First Round against the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 17, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville, TN – April 17: A Nashville Predators fan takes a swing at a Chicago Blackhawks themed car prior to Game Three of the Western Conference First Round against the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 17, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. John Russell
When You Go:
Tonight’s game at Bridgestone Arena is presented by Jaguar Land Rover Nashville and comes with a 7 p.m. CT puck drop. The festivities begin at 4 p.m. with a Plaza Party presented by Lee Company, including the Smash Car.
Doors open at 5 p.m. and all fans will receive Gold rally towels. In addition, fans are asked to bring back their light-up Fangclets used in Game Three, as they will once again be lighting up tonight.
Be sure to be in your seats early for another superstar rendition of the National Anthem prior to puck drop.
Take It In:
Tonight’s game can be seen locally on Fox Sports Tennessee or nationally on NBCSN. Pregame coverage on FS-TN begins at 6:30 p.m. CT; coverage on 102.5 The Game and the Preds Radio Network begins at 6 p.m.
**For schedules, where to watch, giveaways and coverage of the Predators 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, visit the playoff hub**