The Chicago Blackhawks came into their first round series against the Nashville Predators as the clearly favored team.
Four games later, they’re on their way home early – and the Predators are headed to round two.
In an unexpected first round sweep, the Predators became the third team to punch their ticket to the second round of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs with two shutouts, an overtime victory, and a 4-1 win in game four against Chicago.
The star of the show was Predators starting goaltender Pekka Rinne, who allowed just three goals in his entire series against the Blackhawks – including zero goals in his first two games. For the first 120 minutes of play, he was even leading Chicago in scoring by a full two points, racking up a pair of helpers to start off the series.
For Chicago, it’s a jarring loss. The club finished the regular season first in the Western Conference, dominating down the back stretch to pull ahead of even the impressive Minnesota Wild.
They struggled through the postseaon, though. The first player to score a goal didn’t come until midway through their third game, when depth forward Dennis Rasmussen found the back of the net – and only he, Patrick Kane, and captain Jonathan Toews would manage to find tallies overall throughout the series.
This gives the Predators the biggest advantage, though.
The club certainly didn’t see an easy workload for Rinne, who faced heavy volumes of shots throughout the series. He – and the rest of the club – will have plenty of time to rest up before the second round, though.
They now join the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks in advancing early in the postseason.