And we thought the first period of Game 1 was bad.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Nashville Predators, with the series shifting back to Chicago for Game 3 on Sunday. Not only that, the Preds were without a good chunk of their lineup, including Shea Weber and Mike Fisher. But as we've learned throughout the year, when the Hawks have a golden opportunity in front of them, they often fall flat on their collective faces.
Boy, is that an incredible understatement for the complete and unmitigated disaster that took place on Nashville ice on Friday night. A game that was close for 40 minutes got completely out of hand in the third period, with the Preds running away with the 6-2 victory and evening the series at one.
The Hawks never led in this one, and still have yet to lead for any period of time as far as the clock is concerned. They quickly played from behind after Colin Wilson (again) cashed in on a power play in the first three minutes of the game. It came off of a bogus Kris Versteeg penalty, but put the Blackhawks behind early nonetheless.
The road team would manage to keep up, though. Patrick Sharp took control of the puck in the slot and put a beauty of a goal past Pekka Rinne to even things up. Roman Josi put the Preds back up in the last three seconds of the period, though, with a shot that would have been impossible for Corey Crawford to stop given that he had two Preds directly in front of him with the screen.
Patrick Kane would score the only other goal of the game for the Blackhawks, and it came with six men on the ice. You can argue that Predator players kept Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell from leaving the ice, but the Hawks certainly got away with a too many men call on that one. Of course, it ultimately made zero difference. The Predators added another before the period ended and ran away with it from there.
The third period of this game is sure to lead to some alarming overreactions and the hottest of takes across the land. And when it comes down to it, Corey Crawford will shoulder the blame. That should be true to an extent, but he's not even close to the only issue.
Filip Forsberg started the outpouring of goals in the third, after owning Michal Rozsival (weird) to get into the slot and overcoming Duncan Keith's stick for the 4-2 lead. It came off of a rebound that Crawford absolutely should have had. The defense didn't help him either. Nor did they help him on the 2-on-1 on which Craig Smith scored, nor did they help him on the Mike Santorelli goal that put this one completely out of reach.
The goal here after this game is to avoid hitting the panic button too frantically after this one. The calls for Scott Darling will be loud. But Crawford, while he wasn't particularly good on Friday, was not nearly the only problem. There's issues up front, and there are especially issues on the blue line. We'll examine some of those issues in the Kevin Bacon, "ALL IS WELL" post tomorrow.
The bottom line is this: It's one game. The Blackhawks stole one on the road. They now go back to the United Center, where they don't have to worry about keeping various colors out of the arena, with the series tied 1-1. If Joel Quenneville will tweak his personnel and the Hawks can take advantage of the home ice, they'll be just fine.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.