The Chicago Blackhawks took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Nashville Predators, but it took the Blackhawks a long, long time.
According to NBC Sports, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook scored a goal just one minute into the third overtime period to lift the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory in game 4 of the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks can clinch the first-round victory with a win in game 5 in Nashville.
Game 4 was a testament to superior playoff goaltending, with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, the $7 million dollar man, and the Blackhawks’ Scott Darling, a backup seemingly out of nowhere. Both played the full game, each making unbelievable saves, almost as if each one were standing on their heads. At one point, Rinne even made the puck disappear, literally.
The puck disappeared right after Rinne stopped a shot, and the puck was nowhere to be found. The game was stopped for a few minutes while the puck search went on, then Rinne reached into his right leg pad, then pulled out the missing puck, bringing the 22,104 mostly Blackhawks fans at Chicago’s United Center to their feet, cheering and clapping.
However, it was the last shot by the Blackhawks’ Seabrook that did get past Rinne, putting the Predators on the precipice of a playoff pummeling.
USA Today reports that the Blackhawks’ Seabrook has a tendency for late-game goals, especially in the postseason.
In the 101st minute of the game, Seabrook took a long pass from Blackhawks center Patrick Kane and beat Rinne with the 100th shot of the game to take the victory. “Long game, it was a late night,” a relieved Seabrook said. “It’s nice to end that one.”
Brandon Saad and Antoine Vermette each scored for the Blackhawks, while Colin Wilson and James Neal scored for the Predators, who had carried a 2-1 lead into the third period. Rinne, allowed three goals and stopped 45 shots. Darling allowed two goals and stopped 50 shots. When asked about the game, Darling said, “It was awesome.”
Though down 3-1, Predators coach Peter Laviolette knows it’s not over. “Our guys are a resilient group,” Laviolette said. “They will not cave. They will not go away quietly. They’ll be ready to play Game 5, I promise you.”
It is the goalies who are providing the momentum changes during the series. Rinne, with his acrobatic, flailing style, and the Blackhawks’ backup Darling, with his steady, imposing presence in goal, have set the tone for the series.
“Every game’s been tight, every game’s been on the line, a very competitive series,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Momentum’s been shifting during games, and shift to shift for that matter.”
Game 5 of the Blackhawks-Predators series will be at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Friday, Thursday.
[Image courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]