After Game 1 of the Western Conference Playoff series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators became an instant classic, most viewers agreed it could only go downhill from there.
Most viewers were wrong.
After a 4-3 double overtime victory in Game 1, the Chicago Blackhawks – up two games to one in the series – waited until triple overtime to end Game 4.
After two scoreless OT periods, Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook sent a shot from the point past Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne for the winner. It was the third playoff overtime goal in Seabrook’s career, according to ESPN’s John Buccigross.
Here is the scoring summary from Wednesday’s game, courtesy of NHL.com:
After Brandon Saad’s wrister midway through the third period sent the game into OT, it took nearly 50 minutes for another puck to find the net. Rinne and Chicago’s Scott Darling combined for 95 saves on 100 shots in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ first 3OT contest.
Here are a few takeaways from Wednesday’s game that may be of importance going into Game 5:
Oh, Darling: 26-year-old rookie goaltender Scott Darling continued to be brilliant on Wednesday, making 50 saves on 52 shots. The former backup to Corey Crawford, who won Game 1 in relief of the veteran, is now 3-0 in the series. It would be a shock to see Crawford return to net save a major setback from Darling. The only concern for the freshman goalie is fatigue: after over five periods of fast-paced and strenuous pay, Darling may feel the effects of it, having not played much during the season.Embed from Getty Images
Fatigue: As with Darling, triple overtime takes a toll on all parties involved. On Wednesday night, 13 players logged over 30 minutes of ice time, with five north of 40 minutes (Duncan Keith for the Blackhawks; Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm for the Predators). It is simply impossible to ignore what this could mean in Games 5-7 (if all seven are needed). Tired defensemen could lead to lazy backchecking, tired forwards to lazy forechecking, and tired goalies to more scoring. Make sure to watch for sloppy play in Game 5 – as unlikely as it is with these two powerhouses, it very well may happen.
Backs against the wall: Down 2-1 in the series, the Predators threw everything they had at the Hawks and still came up empty Wednesday. Now, going back to Nashville down 3-1, the Preds will have to find something left in the tank to rally back against the playoff-tested Blackhawks. It is notable that Nashville was 28-9-4 at home this year – as opposed to 19-16-6 on the road – so heading home could be just the boost it needs. Yet, with three straight wins the requirement to move on, the second round looks bleak for the Music City.
Game 5 @ Nashville: Thursday, 4/23, 9:30 PM EST
Game 6: @ Chicago: Saturday, 4/25, Time TBD