The Chicago Blackhawks came home with a chance to win the series after losing Game #5 in Nashville 5-2 and really not wanting to return to Smashville for Game #6 so winning on Saturday night was job #1 for the Blackhawks and this is how things turned out at the United Center
The Nashville Predators came out like a team that won big in the last game of the series and they were hitting and skating, and both of those skills helped James Neal get past everyone and beat Scott Darling for a very quick lead. The Predators didn’t step off the gas pedal and scored on the powerplay when Neal deflected a shot from the point and all of sudden it was 2-0.
The Blackhawks finally started skating and got on the scoreboard when Patrick Sharp knocked in a rebound to get Chelsea Dagger playing in the United Center, but 39 seconds later Matt Cullen beat Duncan Keith and somehow Niklas Hjalmarsson let him just skate in front of Darling and score to push the lead to 3-1. After that goal it was Darling out and Corey Crawford in to a standing ovation.
The Hawks got a powerplay after a very undisciplined James Neal penalty, and the Hawks scored on the ensuing faceoff when Patrick Sharp slap passed it off of Jonathan Toews skate and past Rinne to cut the lead to 3-2. The Blackhawks were killing the Predators on the faceoffs and that was highlighted when Brad Richards won a faceoff with 8 seconds left and Patrick Kane zipped one past Rinne to tie the game right before the intermission horn. What a wild period with the Predators out shooting the Hawks 14-11 and the game tied at 3 all!
Well the second period wasn’t the goal scoring period the first period was at the United Center. Both coaches are known for being proud defensive coaches so it had to be expected that the teams would crack down and the ice rink would shrink.
The Chicago Blackhawks did carry most of the play of the period and most of the good chances, but they were the recipient of a quick whistle on a Nashville 2 on 1 that stunned Corey Crawford and the puck was loose but the whistle sounded. The Hawks had their chances but Pekka Rinne settled down and the score was still tied at 3 after 2 periods with the Hawks out shooting the Preds 12-7 in the period and 23-21 for the game.
The Nashville Predators came out flying in the third period and got 4 quick shots on Corey Crawford and one puck that should have been knocked in but went just wide and that was pretty much it for the Predators in the third period. The Blackhawks took over the period and it was all Brandon Saad, Marian Hossa, Jonthan Toews, and Duncan Keith. The four of them seemed to own the ice for minutes at a time.
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In one pretty wild flurry they had multiple chances to score but it wasn’t going in and then finally Duncan Keith fired one through a screen that beat Pekka Rinne and the Hawks had a 4-3 lead with less than 4 minutes left. Corey Crawford had to make one more big save and then after some exciting 2 minutes of open net action the horn sounded and the Hawks had a 4-3 victory and a 4-2 series win over the Nashville Predators.
-This was the second time that the starting goalie was pulled giving up three goals and the backup shut out the Preds the rest of the way.
-Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews played in their 100th career playoff game
-The next series isn’t determined but if Minnesota wins tomorrow it will be the Hawks and Wild for the third straight season.