CHICAGO — J.P. Dumont scored twice
in the final period and the Nashville Predators won for the first time
on the road in the playoffs, rallying to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1
on Friday night in the Western Conference quarterfinal opener.
It was Nashville's first road playoff
win in 11 tries and it was a dramatic one with former Blackhawk Dumont
burning his former team in the third.
Pekka Rinne made 25 saves in his
playoff debut for the Predators, allowing only Patrick Kane's
second-period goal. After Dumont gave Nashville a 2-1 lead, Jerred
Smithson and Martin Erat added empty-net goals in the final 48 seconds.
Nashville's David Legwand got the puck
after a turnover by Chicago's Troy Brouwer, raced in and took a shot
that Antti Niemi stopped, but Dumont was there to knock in the rebound
to give the Predators a 2-1 lead at 10:37 of the final period.
Early in the period, Dumont flipped a
bouncing puck toward the goal from the deep right side, it skipped by a
surprised Niemi, hit the post and went it to tie just 1:31 into the
Niemi, a rookie who emerged as
Chicago's top goalie with his play late in the season, made 22 saves in
his playoff debut. But the first goal he allowed Friday night was one
he'll long remember, especially because Dumont's shot wasn't a hard one.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven is Sunday
night at the United Center.
Dumont had 17 goals during the regular
season in 74 games and has 17 goals in 43 playoff games.
When Patrick Sharp fired a shot from
the left circle that went off Rinne, he couldn't control the puck and
Kane was there to follow it in from right in front of the net for his
10th career playoff goal. That gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway
through the second period.
Sharp had a chance to score earlier
on a nice pass from Marian Hossa but his shot hit the post.
Rinne made a good stop on Jonathan
Towes' rebound attempt after a shot by Hossa and then later had a great
poke check to thwart a breakaway attempt by Sharp in the scoreless first
Employing a neutral-zone trap defense
to combat Chicago's puck possession game, the Predators and Blackhawks
finished with 26 shots apiece. Nashville had a 13-4 advantage in the
pivotal third period. Chicago led the NHL this season with an average of
34 shots per game while allowing a league-low 25.
The Blackhawks and Predators played
six times in the regular season with Chicago winning four times, but in a
scheduling quirk they hadn't met since Dec. 27.
Predators D Denis Grebeshkov,
who was hurt March 7 when hit by a puck, was a scratch but could be
available for Game 2. … Attendance was 22,256.