Rinne and the Predators shut out Blackhawks in series opener

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Road teams have, for the most part, started strong in these Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Nashville Predators continued that trend Thursday.

The Predators managed only 20 shots on goal on Corey Crawford, but left the United Center with a 1-0 victory to take the series lead over the best team in the West this season.

Viktor Arvidsson scored the only goal of this game — all the way back before the eight-minute mark of the first period.

The Predators made things interesting in the final minute, with Crawford pulled for the extra attacker, by first passing up an opportunity to shoot for an open net, and then later icing the puck going for the open net to set up a faceoff in the Nashville zone.

Nothing resulted from those missed chances.

One goal was all the support Pekka Rinne would need. He turned away all 29 shots he faced to back the Predators to the shut out.

Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane had some dangerous moments, combining for 10 shots on goal, but they couldn’t convert, while Jonathan Toews wasn’t credited with a shot on goal in 20:38 of ice time.

Of the seven games completed so far in the opening round, the visiting teams have gone 5-2 and strong goaltending — or spectacular in the case of Jake Allen last night in Minnesota — has certainly contributed to that.

Game 2 of this series goes Saturday in Chicago.