Second straight shutout loss drops Blackhawks in 2-0 series hole vs. Predators

Second straight shutout loss drops Blackhawks in 2-0 series hole vs. Predators

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

The Blackhawks didn't get anything in Game 1 against Nashville, but that game was at least palatable. They didn't do a lot, but they didn't give up a lot, either. But in Game 2, with the Predators upping their game, the Blackhawks didn't match. They didn't even come close. And now they're facing one hell of a first-round series hole.

Ryan Ellis scored what would be the game-winning goal in the first period and Pekka Rinne got his second shutout in as many games with 30 stops as the Predators beat the Blackhawks 5-0 on Saturday night. The Predators, who looked as strong as the Blackhawks looked frustrated, take a 2-0 lead back to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Thursday, respectively.

The Blackhawks could take positives out of Game 1. This one? Not so much. It's the second time in franchise history the Blackhawks were shut out in their first two postseason games. The last time it happened was back in 1935.

"That was frustration to a different level. That wasn't fun to watch. Across the board, not too many positives came out of tonight's game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Everybody was responsible, from the coaches down to every single player. We need to get out of this mess and hole. We can play much better than that in all areas, in all aspects. We're a better hockey team than we showed tonight."

Unlike in Game 1, when the Predators seemed content to go into full defense mode after taking a 1-0 lead, they took more initiative on Saturday. The Blackhawks' frustration level grew as the game wore on. Jonathan Toews had five shots on goal, but he and Patrick Kane (four shots) couldn't punch anything through. The two, who were on the same line by the third period, have just one playoff goal combined since the start of the 2016 postseason.

"For sure. It always is," Toews said about the pressure being on he and other top guys. "But I think everyone in this room will take it upon themselves to try to make a difference and try to get our team going with the first goal of the series. I didn't think you'd be saying that three games into the series, but I think we all add a little bit more on ourselves to try and find a way. But again, it's collectively as a team, those little details that'll add up that will translate into those scoring chances that we're looking for."

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On Saturday nothing the Blackhawks did, from line changes to defensive pair changes — prior to the game or in it — worked. Meanwhile the opportunistic Predators fired at every opportunity, coming at the Blackhawks in waves.

Ellis' goal came just after Richard Panik blocked his previous attempt, with Viktor Arvidsson setting the screen in front. In the second period Harry Zolnierczyk, during a bad Blackhawks line change, got separated just enough to beat Corey Crawford for a 2-0 lead. Then Colton Sissons, after Crawford had stopped two previous shots, came in to score for a 3-0 lead 13 minutes into the second.

The Blackhawks had their strongest push in the third period, but they still couldn't capitalize on any opportunities. Meanwhile, Ryan Johansen added his first of the postseason with 6:11 remaining in regulation. Kevin Fiala scored at 18:13 to cap the Predators' scoring.

"It's not good enough, and we have to find a way to beat the neutral zone. That's the No. 1 thing. And be more desperate around the net," Marian Hossa said. "Pretty much, most chances are one and done. I think we can create more than we're showing, and we have to be way better around their goalie."

The Blackhawks have to regroup fast. They had a great road record this regular season, but they'll be facing a Predators team that's up 2-0 and brimming with confidence. This was already looking like a tough series before it started. It's now going to be that much more difficult for the Blackhawks to get back in it.

"One shift at a time. That's how desperate is has to be. A gigantic hole," Quenneville said. "It's going to be a loud building (in Nashville). We have to chip away. We need a goal to start to get the momentum back on our side. Giving up another early goal again tonight didn't help, but baby steps. Be angry."

Why the Stanley Cup was late to Blackhawks' 2015 Game 6 win over Lightning

Why the Stanley Cup was late to Blackhawks' 2015 Game 6 win over Lightning

Out of tradition and superstition, the Stanley Cup is never in the building until after puck drop during a Stanley Cup Final game in which it could be won, unless it's a Game 7 when both teams have a shot.

On June 15 in 2015, when the Blackhawks won their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history, old Stanley was a little late to his own party at the United Center.

As the Keeper of the Cup Philip Pritchard tells host Pat Boyle on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, fans were already celebrating the Hawks Cup-clinching win over the Lightning outside the UC as the trophy was pulling in.

Broadcasters 'Doc' Emrick and Eddie Olczyk were filling time waiting for the Cup to arrive, which was still absent during the handshake line.

According to Pritchard, the Cup left the hotel around puck drop and it was the stormy weather that made the Keeper and the best trophy in sports tardy for the celebration.

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"People that weren't (at the game yet) were in traffic and just leaving their cars and walking and the roads were flooded, the highways were flooded, the bypass was like a lake. And as we were coming out towards the arena, we realized then that we were going to need some help, not just Mother Nature help, but we're going to need security help with it as well," Pritchard said.

"As we pulled into the arena — obviously the game had finished and the Blackhawks won — the home team's going nuts, the hometown fans are going crazy. So we presented (the Conn Smythe) to Duncan Keith and then we brought the Stanley Cup out and I remember on the ice talking to Jonathan Toews and he said, 'That was so cool that it took so long and the fans were loving it.' And I was telling him what went on and he goes, 'Really? I just thought it was part of the effect.'"

Report: NHL 2020 training camp, hub city report, playoff start dates emerge

Report: NHL 2020 training camp, hub city report, playoff start dates emerge

Friday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported some key dates being targeted for the NHL's Return To Play plan, including the start of the 24-team playoff format.

McKenzie said the new slated date for team training camps (Phase 3) is July 13. Teams would report to the hub cities (reportedly Edmonton and Toronto) on July 26 with games and Phase 4 beginning on August 1. 

Bob also shed some light on when Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery and the conclusion of the playoffs may pan out.

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"The second phase of the NHL draft lottery will occur immediately following the best-of-five, play-in qualifying series, so around Aug. 10-12 if all were to go well. Stanley Cup final would wrap up in early October. NHL draft would happen soon after that," he tweeted Friday.

Related: Report: Edmonton expected to host Stanley Cup Final

In Phase 1, the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 NHL Draft went to a placeholder team. Each of the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round of the postseason format will have a 12.5 percent chance of getting the top pick in Phase 2. 

Related: What if Blackhawks get No. 1 pick and select Alexis LaFreniere?