By JAY COHEN
The Associated Press
CHICAGO – Pekka Rinne made 30 saves in his second straight shutout and picked up two assists, helping the Nashville Predators pound the Blackhawks, 5-0, Saturday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and two assists as Nashville added a dominant performance to its taut 1-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday night.
Ryan Ellis, Harry Zolnierczyk, Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala each scored their first career playoff goal.
Game 3 is Monday night in Nashville.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lineup, inserting rookie Vinnie Hinostroza and Dennis Rasmussen and benching veteran Jordin Tootoo and John Hayden. But it was more of the same for the Hawks, who once again looked out of sync against the Predators’ active defense.
The Hawks were shut out in consecutive playoff games for the first time since being blanked in three straight in April 2002 against St. Louis. The club has dropped six in a row dating to the end of the regular season.
The sellout crowd of 22,175 booed as the final seconds of the second period ticked off, and there were more jeers in the third.
The Hawks, who finished with a Western Conference-best 109 points this year, took the last four of their five meetings with the Predators during the regular season. They also controlled much of Game 1, outshooting the Predators, 29-20, albeit with many of the attempts coming from outside.
But this one was all Nashville, right from the start.
After Richard Panik had a shot go off a post in the opening minute, the Predators began to take over. Ellis’ shot from the high slot was blocked by a sliding Panik, but the
defenseman tried again and drove it by Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead at 3:44.
Viktor Arvidsson, who scored the only goal in Game 1, provided a perfect screen on the play, with Ellis’ shot going between his legs on the way to the net.
The Predators added two more in the second.
Rinne picked up a secondary assist when Mattias Ekholm found Zolnierczyk with a great stretch pass, and the forward shot it off Crawford’s left shoulder for a 2-0 lead at 2:51. The Hawks nearly got on the board about 30 seconds later, but captain Jonathan Toews shot it off the right post.
Sissons knocked in his own rebound with seven minutes left. It was Sissons’ first point since he scored two goals against San Jose on March 25.