April 17, 2017
Greg Boysen

The Chicago Blackhawks might be the number one seed in the Western Conference, but you would have no idea that was the case by what we have seen through the first three games against the Nashville Predators.  Even having a two goal lead heading into the third period wasn’t enough to win a game.

The Blackhawks got off to the fast start that they were looking for as they got six of the nine first period shots in the opening five minutes of the game, but were unable to register their first goal of the series. 

The Hawks looked like they were going to catch a lucky break to get their first goal of the series while killing off a penalty midway through the first period.  Pekke Rinne got caught in no man’s land after coming out to play a Johnny Oduya clear, but the puck took a strange bounce off the boards and headed straight for the net.  Rinne used every inch of his giant wing span to dive back and get enough of the puck with his stick to direct it wide of the net.

Dennis Rasmussen, who was one of the few good Blackhawks in Game 2, finally got the Blackhawks on the board just over a minute into the second period.  Richard Panik won a board battle and got the puck to Marcus Kruger below the goal line, who made a quick touch pass out front to Rasmussen for his first career playoff goal.

Kruger pressured Ryan Ellis into shooting the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty just past the midway point of the period. Just over a minute later, Patrick Kane doubled the Blackhawks lead with a snipe from the left circle at 11:15.  Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews picked up their first points of the series with the assists.

The Predators got back into the game as they were able to cash in on their lucky break when the Blackhawks were unable to.  Filip Forsberg cut the lead to 2-1 at 4:24 of the third period as Viktor Arvidsson’s shot went high and bounced right back in front off of a stanchion.  Forsberg was the first to locate the puck and swiped it into the Hawks net.

Forsberg tied the game nearly 10 minutes later as he buried the rebound off of an Ellis shot though Corey Crawford had some trouble in front of the net.  Joel Quenneville challenged the play for goaltender interference, but the call of good goal stood even though Arvidsson made obvious contact with Crawford in front of the crease.  The league gave this explanation for the ruling

Kevin Fiala and the Nashville Predators had plenty of golden opportunities to win throughout overtime and the finally cashed in at the 16:43. Fiala was able to get a backhand shot just past the outstreched glove hand of Crawford as Johnny Oduya lost a race to the puck at the boards to James Neal and Trevor van Riemsdyk stood flat-footed as Fiala went right around him.

The Predators are not up 3-0 because of lucky bounces and puzzling video reviews, but rather because they are the better team.  Just look at the possession numbers of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews in this series to get all the proof you need.

Image Credit: Getty Images