We’re taking a step back in time for this entry in the top Chicago Blackhawks postseason wins under coach Joel Quenneville. With there being 73 such victories since Q took over in 2008, not all of them will be recent. And No. 69 on the list certainly isn’t.
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We’re going back to a time before the Blackhawks had snapped their 49-year Stanley Cup drought, as the memorability level of each game on the list slowly begins to rise. And we get a third team after two games apiece featuring the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 69: 2010 Western Conference first round, Game 4
Chicago Blackhawks 3, Nashville Predators 0
Like the Western Conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings in 2013, this series against the Preds in 2010 was the real scare for the Blackhawks during a dominant run to a championship. It was expected the second-seeded Blackhawks would roll past the seventh-seeded Preds, but Nashville had other plans. The Preds took Games 1 and 3 by 4-1 scores and were looking for a commanding 3-1 series lead in this game at Bridgestone Arena (which wasn’t run by people afraid of Blackhawks fans at this point).
The first big play of this game started with a Niklas Hjalmarsson stretch pass to Jonathan Toews near center ice. Toews streaked to the net but was stoned by Pekka Rinne. However, Bryan Bickell was dragged down during the scoring bid, giving Chicago a powerplay.
Da Windy City
The Blackhawks immediately cashed in when Duncan Keith fired a slapper from the point. After Rinne made a pair of acrobatic saves on Patrick Kane right in front of the net, Patrick Sharp whacked the puck into the cage at the 10:57 mark of the opening frame to give the Blackhawks what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. Just looking at this highlight package provides a reminder that Rinne hasn’t been annoying the Blackhawks only recently — he’s been doing it ever since Q took over the team.
One fun moment from this game came late in the first period, when Toews took a pass on the defensive side of center ice. He proceeded to blow through four Nashville defenders for a quasi-breakaway but had the puck stripped away before he could take a shot. Always fun to watch the Captain have his way with an opposing defense.
About six and a half minutes into the second, Adam Burish nearly scored (really) on a wraparound after playing catch with John Madden (not the football personality), but Rinne somehow stopped that bid as well. The Preds returned the favor with a big chance of their own as former Blackhawk Steve Sullivan got behind the defense and broke toward Antti Niemi. Thanks to just enough interference by a backchecking Dustin Byfuglien and a good pad stop by Niemi, Sullivan was prevented from scoring on the play.
The next scoring play took place with about seven minutes to go in the second following another stretch pass, this one from Keith. The pass found Bickell, who quickly tapped it across the ice to Marian Hossa. Preds defenseman Kevin Klein (I always preferred Kevin Kline) slid to the ice to prevent a shot by Hossa, but the crafty winger waited for Klein to pass, then tossed the puck toward Rinne. It bounced around and found an undefended Toews, who smashed it past Rinne for a 2-0 edge.
Only three and a half minutes later, Sharp netted his second goal of the night with a ridiculous individual effort, carving up multiple Preds defenders and snapping a shot past Rinne from between the circles. The outcome was pretty much elementary from there.
This result tied the first-round series at 2 heading back to the United Center. A wild fifth game would ensue, and it checks in much later on this list.
One thing that is memorable about this game in this particular spot of our order is looking back at players long since dealt away from the Blackhawks. This won’t be the last time we talk about Byfuglien, and we’ll mention Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer and others many other times before this series is over. If anything, this shows that while salary cap changes always seem world-ending at the time, they do pass, and the team can and will recover. That’s one key reason this game checks in a little higher on the list, but there are still several others that offer more long-term memorability.
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