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Hawks Desperate As Preds Can Take Control In Game Two

Posted at 3:44 PM, Apr 15, 2017

Peter Laviolette's message to his Predators team heading into game two against the Blackhawks Saturday night is plain and simple. Don't be satisfied.

The Preds took game one from the Stanley Cup favorites 1-0 thanks to a 29 save, shutout performance from Pekka Rinne. But they know this best of seven series is far from over.

"We know we can and need to play better," Laviolette said after Friday's practice. "We're getting ready for the toughest game of the year."

After losing home ice advantage to the pesky Preds in game one, the Blackhawks practiced Friday; a rarity on a day between games for Joel Quenneville teams. They know what's at stake in game two. A 1-0 deficit isn't ideal, but a 2-0 deficit heading to Nashville for games three and four would be dire.

The Predators understand the Blackhawks will be desperate in game two and say they have to up their level as well.

"I expect them to see their absolute best," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "They're in their own building and we know they're going to come hard. We're in a good spot right now, but it's only game one."

The Predators fended off a hard Blackhawks charge in the final two periods of game one, when they were outshot 23-9 but kept the scoresheet clean.

The Hawks are expected to put young Ryan Hartman on their top line with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik in game two in an effort to get more scoring chances from their normally explosive attack.

"It's going to be even tougher next game," Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said. "I expect their best players to be their best players and we have to find a way to limit their grade one opportunities."

Chicago will try to create more of those opportunities by pushing more traffic into the middle of the ice, especially in front of the net in an effort to obstruct Rinne's vision of shots.

But the bottom line in game two is the feeling out process is over and both teams will have to be better than they were in game one to have a chance to win.

"What happened (in game one) obviously doesn't matter when we come in (for game two)," Predators forward Filip Forsberg said. "We need to come out and try to attack the game and try to take it to them."

Do that and the Preds may head home with not just one win from Chicago, but a commanding 2-0 series lead.