NASHVILLE – The Blackhawks entered tonight’s game three match-up with the rival Nashville Predators in dire need of a victory, trailing the series 2-0, having dropped both game’s one and two at the United Center by a combined score of 7-0.
After the two teams skated a scoreless first period, Dennis Rasmussen scored the first goal of the series for the Blackhawks just over a minute into the second period, giving the Hawks their first lead of the series as well. Patrick Kane would score on the Power Play just past the halfway point in the second period, extending the Blackhawks lead to 2-0 after two periods in Nashville.
After stopping the first 30 Nashville shots-on-goal on the evening, Corey Crawford‘s shutout went by the wayside on a lucky bounce off of the back glass that resulted in a Filip Forsberg goal, cutting the Blackhawks lead to 2-1 with 15:36 remaining in regulation.
With 5:22 remaining in the third period, Filip Forsberg scored his second goal of the period to tie the game 2-2. Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville challenged that there was goaltender interference on the play, but the goal was upheld by the referees in Toronto after review.
With neither team able to find the potential GWG in the final five minutes and change in the third period, we were treated with some free playoff hockey in Nashville to decide a winner.
At the 19:16 mark in the third period Marian Hossa and P.K. Subban received penalties, creating two minutes of four-on-four sudden death hockey, but again neither team would be able to create a real scoring opportunity during the Power Play and the overtime period would continue. Mid-way through the seventh minute of the first overtime the Predators entered the Blackhawks zone with a three-on-two advantage, and had at least three solid scoring chances before the Blackhawks were able to clear the puck out of their own zone safely for the time being.
With 6:05 remaining in the first overtime Corey Crawford made his biggest save of the evening on a wonderful wrist- shot opportunity by Pontus Aberg from 32-feet away, a kick save to keep the Blackhawks alive in game three. The save was Crawford’s 45th at the time of the shot.
With 3:16 to go, Kevin Fiala would beat Crawford in front of the net to give the Predators the victory, and a commanding 3-0 lead in the series against the top seeded Blackhawks despite an impressive 46 save effort by Corey Crawford.
Dennis Rasmussen: 1 G
Patrick Kane: 1 G
Corey Crawford: 46 Saves
Filip Forsberg: 2 G
Kevin Fiala: 1 G (GWG/OT)
The Blackhawks finally got on the board on Monday night after being blanked for the first seven periods of the series by Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Up until the fluke-ish goal by Forsberg early in the third period, Corey Crawford was sending away everything that the Preds’ could muster on net on Monday night. Crawford stopped 46 shots on the evening, doing everything he could to keep the Blackhawks hopes alive.
In a matter of 10 minutes in the third period, the Blackhawks watched their two-goal lead disintegrate at the hands of Filip Forsberg. The Predators spent the majority of the overtime period in the Blackhawks zone, creating opportunities against the Blackhawks, including at least three solid chances before they finally got to Crawford nearly 17 minutes into the extra period.
The Blackhawks and Predators will get back together on Thursday evening in Nashville for game four of their opening round series, with the Blackhawks trailing the Predators 3-0, and now fighting for their playoff lives with zero room for error.
Puck Drop: 7:00 pm (CT) – Thursday
TV: CSN-Chicago, NBCSN