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Predators complete stunning sweep of Blackhawks

Chicago had conference's top record

NASHVILLE, Tenn - The sweep was completed Thursday night. Just not the way many would have predicted when the series started a week ago.

Roman Josi scored twice, Viktor Arvidsson and Colton Sissons each added a goal and an assist, and Pekka Rinne bagged 30 saves as the Nashville Predators eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks from the Western Conference first round with a 4-1 decision in raucous Bridgestone Arena.

In scoring the first four-game sweep in franchise history, Nashville moves on to the conference semifinals next week to play the Minnesota Wild or the St. Louis Blues. Meanwhile, Chicago goes home for the offseason after a 50-win regular season that saw the Blackhawks compile the conference's top record.

None of that mattered against Nashville. Rinne gave up only three goals in the series, stopping 123 shots. The Predators flashed their superior depth up front, getting scoring from every line, and they received terrific work from their defense corps to boot.

Josi initiated scoring at 9:41 of the second period with a slapper from the right wall that trickled through the legs of Corey Crawford for his first goal of this postseason.

After the Blackhawks hemmed Nashville in its end for more than a minute, Sissons made it 2-0 at 8:52 of the third period with a weird goal. His wrister from the high slot clanged off the crossbar, but Crawford swept the puck into his net while trying to locate it.

Josi upped the lead to 3-0 at 10:21, finishing off a gorgeous passing sequence by tapping home a wrister. Sissons teed him up with a nice feed to the left post as the standing-room only crowd shook the arena in joy.

Jonathan Toews put the Blackhawks on the board with a power-play marker at 14:42, but that was all they could muster, even after pulling Crawford with nearly three minutes remaining. Arvidsson tacked on an empty-netter at 18:12, his second of the series, as the fans chanted "Sweep."

Crawford finished with 22 saves.

NOTES: Chicago opted to go with seven defensemen Thursday night, utilizing Michal Kempny for the first time in the series. ... Nashville LW Colin Wilson (lower-body injury) and RW Craig Smith were scratched. Smith left Game 3 in overtime with an injury and was replaced by PA Parenteau for Game 4. ... Blackhawks scratches were LW Andrew Desjardins, LW Tomas Jurco, RW Jordin Tootoo, D Michal Roszival, G Jeff Glass, RW Kyle Baun, LW John Hayden, D Gustav Forsling, C Vinnie Hinostroza, LW Tyler Motte and D Erik Gustafsson. ... The Predators also scratched D Anthony Bitetto, D Brad Hunt, RW Miikka Salomaki, LW Cody McLeod and LW Vernon Fiddler.


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