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Predators dump Blackhawks out

AP

Pekka Rinne stopped almost every shot he faced. Nashville’s top line was outstanding, and Roman Josi and P.K. Subban keyed a solid defensive performance.

The Predators were relentless, all the way to the very end. Way too much for the slumping Chicago Blackhawks.

Josi scored twice, Rinne had 30 saves and Nashville beat Chicago 4-1 on Thursday night to complete a surprising sweep of the Western Conference’s top seed.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Josi said. “I thought we played a great series. That’s a great team over there. We’ve got a lot of respect for them. They’ve got some world-class players and I thought we played really well in all those four games.”

Colton Sissons also scored and Viktor Arvidsson added an empty-net goal as Nashville completed the franchise’s first playoff sweep. Led by Rinne’s shutouts in the first two games, the Predators limited the high-scoring Blackhawks to just three goals in 13 periods.

Nashville will face the winner of the St. Louis-Minnesota series in the second round. The Blues have a 3-1 lead heading into Game 5 on Saturday in Minnesota.

Chicago became the first No. 1 seed to lose in the opening round since the Los Angeles Kings knocked off the Vancouver Canucks on their way to the Stanley Cup title in 2012. Chicago’s second straight first-round exit followed a regular season in which the Blackhawks went 50-23-9 and recorded 109 points, the second-highest total in franchise history.

“Not good enough,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t think anybody exceeded their expectations, didn’t compete to the level that’s necessary. I take that personally as a coach to find the ‘all-out’ button and didn’t get the job done.”

Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2

In Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby and Scott Wilson scored 51 seconds apart in the third period, helping the Penguins eliminate the Blue Jackets in Game 5 of their first-round series.

Rangers 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)

In Montreal, Mika Zibanejad scored at 14:22 of overtime, lifting the Rangers to a big win in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Oilers 4, Sharks 3 (OT)

In Edmonton, David Desharnais tallied late in overtime to push San Jose to the brink of elimination.