Apr 15, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Nashville Predators during game one of the first round of the the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Blackhawks won 4-3 in the second overtime. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
That was one helluva Game One. The Chicago Blackhawks fell behind 3-0 to the Nashville Predators in the first period. As it turned out, there were four more periods of hockey to play and it would be the Hawks who would miraculously walk away with the victory.
The first period wasted no time in amping up to a playoff pace. With hardly a whistle, the Hawks and Predators were physical and up and down the ice in no time.
Andrew Shaw would proceed to take an ill-advised interference penalty on Craig Smith to give the Preds their first Power Play of the series at 8:44 of the first. The Hawks’ Penalty Killers were up to the task and were able to kill Nashville’s man-advantage and settle things down a bit.
The Hawks wouldn’t be able to capitalize on any momentum gained. Late in the first, Nashville would capitlaize on Corey Crawford’s attempt to play the puck and it would result in a 2-0 lead for the Preds, courtesy of former Hawk, Viktor Stalberg.
The Predators weren’t;t done yet. They would continue to apply immense pressure which resulted in a holding penalty due to desperation from Kimmo Timonen to keep the Preds away from a 3-0 lead.
His heart was in the right place, but the Hawks Penalty Kill wasn’t and Colin Wilson(again) would find the back of the net to give the Predators a 3-0 lead.
The opening period would end with the Hawks on the man-advantage and down 3-0.
The Hawks would waste no time mixing things up and screwing things up in the 2nd period. Scott Darling replaced Corey Crawford in the Hawks’ net to start the 2nd. Marian Hossa would take an uncharacteristic tripping penalty to negate the Hawks’ Power Play.
Minutes later, Bryan Bickell would deflate the Hawks a bit when he held James Neal which sent him the penalty box and the Predators to the Power Play. This time, the Hawks would be up to the task and would kill the penalty..
Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell would create a flurry of chances, but Pekka Rinne would be there to stop all of them. With the Hawks starting to drive the game, Anton Volechenkov would hook Kris Versteeg to put the Hawks back on the Power Play at 7:16 of the 2nd.
While on that Power Play, Shea Weber would cross-check Andrew Shaw to give the Hawks 55 seconds of a 2-man advantage. Patrick Sharp would make it count and find the back of the net to bring the Hawks within one goal of Nashville.
The Hawks would continue to apply pressure and the Predators would continue to make undisciplined mistakes. Mattias Ekholm would go on to cross check Kris Versteeg to give the Hawks yet another Power Play.
It would be Jonathan Toews who would give the Hawks their next Power Play goal to even the game at 3 goals apiece.
The pace would continue to favor the Hawks as the physicality would ramp up. However, the 2nd period would end in a 3-3 tie.
The 3rd period would pick up right where the 2nd left off; the Hawks pressuring and the Preds committing penalties. This time, it would be Mike Ribeiro hooking Andrew Shaw to give the Hawks their 5th Power Play of the night at 2:18 of the 3rd. Nashville would kill the penalty largely thanks to Pekka Rinne’s ability to control rebounds.
Niklas Hjalmarsson would be called for slashing around the half-way point of the 3rd period. The Hawks would luckily be able to kill the Predator’s Power Play largely thanks to Scott Darling’s heroics in between the pipes.
Nashville would start pressuring the Hawks but the horn would sound marking the end of regulation as Game One would require overtime to find a winner.
Brad Richards took a hi-sticking penalty but once again the Hawks would be able to kill it off, even though the Preds would get a few good chances.
Seth Jones would take a weird looking tripping penalty on Bryan Bickell to give the Hawks their 6th Power Play of the game. Nashville’s Penalty Kill would pull out their best performance of the night and kill off the Hawks’ advantage and wrap up the 1st overtime period.
At 7:49 of the 2nd overtime, Duncan Keith’s slapshot would somehow, someway find it’s way into the back of the net to give the Hawks the victory and a 1-0 series lead.
This was a huge mettle-testing victory for the Hawks. Instant classic? You bet! This win should go a long ways in providing the Hawks momentum for the rest of the series. They better not squander it!
See you on Friday!