Pekka Stuns the Heavy Favorites in the Windy City
April 15th, 2017, Game 2 First Round vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Everyone remembers the feeling of going into that first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even the most loyal and passionate of Predators fans felt like we already lost before the puck dropped for Game 1 vs. the mammoth Chicago Blackhawks. The Evil Empire. The dynasty.
When the Predators crept out of Game 1 with a 1-0 win, the feeling was we stole one on the road and the Blackhawks were going to come back angrier than ever and roast the Predators to take back control of the series they’re heavy favorites in.
Game 2 was absolutely the turning point of “maybe we actually can pull off the unthinkable??”. Pekka Rinne sure made it feel that way, at least.
In Game 1, Rinne turned away 29 shots for the 1-0 shutout. In Game 2, Rinne would face just 30 shots, but the pressure was intense. Performing back-to-back shutouts on the road against a dynasty like team in the Blackhawks should be considered one of the better two-game showings from a goaltender in NHL history.
I still consider Game 2 slightly more impressive because it really flipped heads around the NHL world. Any underdog can get lucky and steal Game 1. Can you do it again? The Predators did, and they gave some goal support to Rinne as well with five goals and a three-point game from Ryan Johansen, just for honorable mention.
I will always remember this Game 2 as a game that made me feel like “oh wow, this can actually happen”. Plus the trolling of the Blackhawks slogan of “One Goal” still gives me joy and always will.