Predators rested, ready to face Blues in surprising semi

Predators rested, ready to face Blues in surprising semi

But there is no telling how the Wild will respond Saturday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center.

MONTREAL - Mika Zibanejad scored the victor at 14:22 of the first overtime period to send NY over Montreal at the Bell Centre. After all, the Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup three times in the past seven years. For a team that was close to entering the dynasty discussion, having the rug pulled out from under them in the first round is going to cause of a lot of soul searching this offseason.

Sidney Crosby scored on a one-timer from Evgeni Malkin for a power-play goal and some breathing room at 5:31 of the third before Scott Wilson scored 51 seconds later on a backward tip to give the Penguins an insurmountable lead.

April 20, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) reacts as Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) and defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) celebrate. The Blues continued their stingy ways under head coach Mike Yeo, who took over for Ken Hitchcock on February 1 and compiled the best record (22-8-2) in the league down the stretch. "You set aside your individual success for the benefit of the team and he shows great examples of that".

"When you look at the way the playoffs went, it just seems like Nashville had more bite and more aggression", veteran Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said.

Hinostroza spent about half the season in Rockford and was recalled just ahead of the National Hockey League playoffs.

It's probably smart to somewhat disregard Nashville winning the season series vs. the Blues as just one game took place with Yeo in charge. Handicapping a sport played in confined spaces, on ice and ruled by random bounces is a risky endeavor.

Rajon Rondo's Incredible Pinpoint Full-Court Pass to Jimmy Butler
However, no matter what happens from here on out, it is safe to say they certainly worked to prove many of their doubters wrong . The fact the Celtics were 12 games better during the regular season hasn't mattered during the early stages of the series.

Prediction: Johansen and Forsberg each had 11 points in the first round and each recorded at least a point in all four games, while 14 Predators recorded at least a point in the first round.

On a macro level, the system is rigged for parity. While the Blackhawks flopped in the playoffs, they had a successful regular season and have a mix of proven performers and young players who might be much better in the postseason after their experience against the Predators.

In contrast to those teams, the Predators never won more than four in a row during the regular season. By 2016, there were only four.

This year's trip to the playoffs was the Hawks' ninth straight, second only in active streaks to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It's tough enough to lose a series and fall short", captain Jonathan Toews said.

So the Western Conference is truly wide open, with Edmonton and San Jose trading blowouts and overtime roundhouses in another unpredictable series. Brent Seabrook is signed for seven more seasons, but at 32 has looked a step slower the past couple years. I felt confident throughout the series. "That's the nature of the Stanley Cup playoffs".

Game 2 takes place on Friday at Scottrade, with the series shifting to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday at 2:00 PM and Tuesday, May 2 at 8:30 PM, respectively.