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Top Chicago Blackhawks Wins: It’s Getting Late

By Colin Likas
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Overtime Stanley Cup playoff games can take hockey fans through so many emotions. Chicago Blackhawks fans know this plenty well, as some of the team’s biggest triumphs (and a few losses) have come in outings that went far beyond 60 minutes.

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The Blackhawks were looking to a take a 3-1 series lead against the always frustrating Nashville Predators in these most-recent playoffs when things got into slap-happy territory for fans who managed to take in the entire game. So let’s take a look at that moment as our countdown of most memorable playoff wins under coach Joel Quenneville continues.

Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.

No. 14: 2015 Western Conference first round, Game 4

Chicago Blackhawks 3, Nashville Predators 2 (3OT)

Usually, when a game starts with Viktor Stalberg having the first scoring chance against your team, things will either end really really well or really really poorly. Thankfully, Scott Darling turned away Stalberg about two minutes into this one.

But the Preds wouldn’t stay off the scoreboard too long, as series-long irritant Colin Wilson planted himself in front of the net on a powerplay after losing the puck to Johnny Oduya. The defenseman’s attempted clear was held in by Seth Jones, who dished it to Ryan Ellis on the opposite side of the blue line, to Darling’s left. Ellis hammered a shot on net, and it was tipped high over Darling’s shoulder for a 1-0 Nashville lead about 11:30 in.

Chicago responded quickly, as Michal Rozsival collected a puck along the boards next to the circle at Pekka Rinne‘s left. Rozsival made a simple play by throwing the puck toward the net, and Antoine Vermette impressively redirected the shot from just below the circles. Rinne had no chance, and the Blackhawks needed only 1:30 to tie things up.

Jonathan Toews tried to give the Blackhawks a big momentum boost right before the opening frame ended by doing essentially the same thing as Rozsival. Brandon Saad was right on Rinne’s doorstep, but there was no conversion this time around.

Craig Smith had the next great chance seven minutes into the second as he took a feed from Ellis and tried to tip it through Darling. But the big goaltender stood tall so Smith had nothing but body to shoot at.

The teams traded some fine chances through the middle of the period, with Stalberg, Saad and James Neal all being turned away at one point or another. A wonky play toward the end of the frame put the Predators ahead going into the third. The Blackhawks failed to clear their zone, and the puck wound up on Duncan Keith‘s stick in front of Darling. Neal slapped at the puck with a hope and a prayer, and someone up high must’ve heard it, as the puck found its way through Darling. It would be the last goal allowed by Darling, and considering how long this game went, that was and still is pretty amazing.

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  • Darling had to make up for his defensemen’s in-zone struggles early in the second as well, when Filip Forsberg picked off an Oduya clearing attempt and set up Mike Ribeiro for a bid. It was turned aside.

    Saad almost earned a penalty shot a short time later with the Blackhawks on the powerplay. Marcus Kruger broke up ice with the puck, and Saad beat Forsberg pack toward Rinne, causing Forsberg to hook Saad. But a regular minor penalty was called instead, and nothing came of it.

    Just after Pat Foley had finished commenting on the Blackhawks’ passing struggles (and accurate observation), Keith sent a stretch pass to Marian Hossa at the offensive-zone blue line. He carried it in toward Rinne, then dropped a pass for an uncovered Saad. He wristed one from above the circles and past Rinne to tie the game again about halfway through the period.

    And that was the last scoring we’d see. For awhile.

    For 53 minutes, 57 seconds of game time, neither team would tally a goal. Of course, it was almost a lot shorter than that, as Saad and Hossa almost connected on a give-and-go 2-on-1 with less than 15 seconds left in regulation, but Rinne stoned Hossa and made sure we’d need extra time. People who had to go to work the next day didn’t appreciate that, Pekka.

    Amazingly, Kris Versteeg and Andrew Desjardins had the best early chance in extra time, as Versteeg broke around some Nashville defenders and tried to jam the puck in on Rinne while falling to the ice. Desjardins followed up with a stuff attempt, but Rinne got back to his right post to prevent that as well.

    And then the group had another great chance later in the first overtime, this one with Kruger chipping in. Some sweet passing between the trio saw Desjardins end up with the puck and skate to the front of the net below the circles. While being tripped on his backhand (no penalty was called), Desjardins threw a shot on net that Rinne stuck his glove up for to make the save.

    No one scored in the first extra 20 minutes (obviously), so on we went to the second 20. Oddly, all three overtime penalties occurred in this period, with Matt Cullen, Forsberg and Andrew Shaw all serving time in the box. Patrick Kane would get a good chance on Cullen’s error, forcing Rinne to make another slick glove save.

    Now, before we get to the game-winner, don’t worry: Darling was forced to make many, many saves. He turned aside 50 of 52 Predators chances, while Rinne stopped 45 of 48 Blackhawks bids.

    The 48th came in the opening minute of the third overtime when Kane and Bryan Bickell played catch on a chance that went wide of Rinne. They didn’t quit on the play, as Bickell took the puck behind the net and sent it to Kane, who circled back toward the blue line. He sent the puck to constant overtime hero Brent Seabrook, whose one-timer beat Rinne to awaken a probably tired United Center crowd and send them home happy, as the Blackhawks had taken a 3-1 series lead against Nashville.

    The game-winning goal also spawned this image:

    Apr 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) is congratulated by right wing Patrick Kane (88) for scoring the winning goal during the third overtime period against the Nashville Predators in game four of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Chicago won 3-2 in the third overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    Good times.

    Previous entries

    No. 15 | No. 16 | No. 17 | No. 18 | No. 19 | No. 20 | No. 21 | No. 22 | No. 23 | No. 24 | No. 25 | No. 26 | No. 27 | No. 28 | No. 29 | No. 30 | No. 31 | No. 32 | No. 33 | No. 34 | No. 35 | No. 36 | No. 37 | No. 38 | No. 39 | No. 40 | No. 41 | No. 42 | No. 43 | No. 44 | No. 45 | No. 46 | No. 47 | No. 48 | No. 49 | No. 50 | No. 51 | No. 52 | No. 53 | No. 54 | No. 55 | No. 56 | No. 57 | No. 58 | No. 59 | No. 60 | No. 61 | No. 62 | No. 63 | No. 64 | No. 65 | No. 66 | No. 67 | No. 68 | No. 69 | No. 70 | No. 71 | No. 72 | No. 73

    Next: Kane Merchandise Makes Appearance In Camp

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