That hurt. After breaking a two-game (and seven-period) scoring drought in the 2017 playoffs, the Hawks could not finish the job as they squandered a two-goal lead in the third period. The Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, in overtime to take a 3-0 series lead. A few quirky bounces, some questionable officiating, and a rough overtime period cost Chicago the win in a “much needed” game.
Here’s how it happened:
A promising sight for fans in the first period was an early rush from the Blackhawks, including four early shots on goal in the first three minutes of the game. Patrick Kane found his stride early with three of the four chances on goal, with Pekka Rinne holding the Hawks scoreless.
Midway through the period, Chicago was looking to kill off a Nashville power play when Johnny Oduya cleared the puck out of the Hawks’ zone. The puck took a bizarre bounce off the boards and slid towards the Predator goal, catching Rinne off guard. He was forced to dive across the crease, making an unbelievable save to keep the game scoreless.
After seven periods of scoreless hockey, Chicago FINALLY found the back of the net in the playoffs as Dennis Rasmussen fired home a between-the-legs pass from Marcus Kruger to give Chicago the lead. The goal came at the 1:05 mark of the second period, and silenced the boisterous Nashville crowd.
With a one-goal lead, the Hawks continued to pressure Rinne. Chicago would end the period outshooting Nashville, 12-9, with Kane contributing four more shots on goal during the second period.
One of those shots found the back of the net as Kane snapped a wrist shot past Rinne during a Chicago power play midway through the second period. Kane had help from a well placed screen from Artem Anisimov, and the Hawks would finish the second period with a two goal lead. For Kane, the goal was his 50th career playoff score.
Riding a two-goal lead into the third period, Chicago looked to hold steady in the final period of play. This is the playoffs, though, and there always seems to be an emphasis on “puck luck” when games carry as much impact as they do. Puck luck favored the Predators after a Viktor Arvidsson shot jumped off a stanchion behind Corey Crawford and landed just in front of the crease. Crawford lost sight of the puck, giving Filip Forsberg a tap in goal to draw the Preds one goal closer with 15 minutes to go.
Forsberg’s goal not only closed the gap to one goal, but it rejuvenated the Nashville faithful with just over half the period to go. The momentum provided a spark for the Preds, and they continued to pressure the Hawks and Crawford. Eventually, the tying goal came.
Forsberg wrestled home another rebound as Viktor Arvidsson collided with Crawford to tie the game at two. After a review was called by Joel Quenneville and the Hawks, the goal stood as called on the ice. Both teams would survive the remaining six minutes of play, taking the game into overtime. Here’s what Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers had to say about the play:
The overtime period opened with a double penalty assessed to Marian Hossa and P.K. Subban within the first minute of play. Both teams traded a few decent chances early on, but both goaltenders stood tall as the penalties ended.
Kevin Fiala missed a golden opportunity for the Preds near the midway point of overtime after a bouncing puck drew Crawford out of the crease. The shot sailed wide of the net, and kicked into the netting stopping play. The play was an absolute blessing as the ice crew gave Chicago a much needed breather and momentarily halted the Nashville rush. For the next four minutes of play, Crawford showed why he is arguably one of the elite goaltenders in the league with a few key saves. Fiala would get his revenge with 4:16 remaining, tallying the game-winning goal to lift Nashville over Chicago, 3-2.
SCH’s 3 Stars of the Game
1) Filip Forsberg, Nashville (2 goals, 6 shots, GTG)
2) Kevin Fiala, Nashville (1 game-winning goal)
3) Patrick Kane, Chicago (1 goal, 9 shots)
Only four times in 182 attempts has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NHL playoffs to win a series. The last time Chicago trailed 3-0 in a series was the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Vancouver Canucks. Chicago rallied to tie the series 3-3, only to fall in overtime in game 7 in Vancouver.
While the loss doesn’t eliminate the Blackhawks, losing a game in overtime after scoring the first two goals of the game is a bit of a back breaker. Sure, the Hawks have had a few flashes of brilliance in this series, but there is no room for error if Chicago wants to come back in this series.