(Photo: Blackhawks Facebook)

The Chicago Blackhawks took a 3-1 series lead with a 3-2 win in triple overtime in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

After nearly five hours of hockey, Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook‘s shot from the blue line past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was a merciful end for players and spectators alike.

 

 

“I don’t think I’ve played a game this late, ever,” Coach Joel Quenneville said after the 1:16 a.m. goal horn.  


It was the longest game in Predators history, and, though the Hawks have a history of multiple OTs, Tuesday’s late start led to a particularly late finish.

Seabrook and goaltender Scott Darling were deemed heroes in the nail-biter, with Seabrook’s game-winner and Darling’s level-headed though acrobatic saves on 50 out of 52 shots.

The Predators took the lead early with Colin Wilson, who has four goals in four games this series, capitalizing on a power play. Seth Jones kept in a clear attempt and passed the puck across to Ryan Ellis, who shot the puck from the point for a tip-in by Wilson with 8:22 left in the first.

Antoine Vermette answered with his first goal of the series less than two minutes later. Patrick Sharp passed the puck behind the net to Michal Rozsival, who put it on net for a redirect by Vermette and a 1-1 score.

In that close first period, the Predators would barely edge the Hawks in shots–13-11. But in the second, the Preds’ recent second period slump would be broken by the Blackhawks’ sloppy second. Nashville would outshoot Chicago 14-7.

And, James Neal would give the Preds their lead back. With just about three minutes left in the period, Neal would steal a pass from Duncan Keith in front of the Blackhawks’ net and shoot it in point-blank for a goal.

Then came the third and a visible shift for Chicago. They led in shots for the period with 12 to the Predators’ five.

With 8:57 to go in regulation, Keith cleared the puck up to Hossa through center ice and Hossa skated toward the net before sending a drop-pass back to Brandon Saad, who shot from the right hashmarks stick side on Rinne into the net.

Neither team would score through the remainder of regulation or the first two full overtimes. Darling would stop a tortuous 18 shots while Rinne would shut down 20.

Then, finally, after 100 minutes of play and a day after his 30th birthday, Seabrook would end it with the 100th shot of the game.

“We were hoping for a hero,” Saad said. “Seabrook’s done it before. It was a big shot.”

Bryan Bickell would go to the net, then start a cycle behind the goal line to Patrick Kane. Bickell went back to screen the goalie while Kane sent the puck over to Seabrook at the blue line for his bomb of a top-shelfer.

“(The Predators) have done a great job all series long of getting in our lanes and I think I had four or five shots (Tuesday night) hitting sticks and bouncing off knee pads and skates and whatnot,” Seabrook said. “Kaner made a great play coming up the boards and laid it in there for me and I just tried to put it on net as hard as I could.”

“He’s had some big ones,” Quenneville said of Seabrook’s shot. “Great play around. Bick nice play to Kaner, Kaner put it on a tee, Bick gets back to the net and I think that’s probably how everyone scripted it: shot, traffic, it goes in. Great shot, great traffic, great pass.” Seabrook is no stranger to coming up clutch.

  Darling was credited with the “number one star of the game” and has already been named the starter for Game 5.  


“Overtime’s crazy: every shot is do or die. Guys kept the chances outside in overtime and made it easy on me,” Darling said. “I’m thrilled we won. It was a real war, great hockey game, a classic. I’m a little tired but excited to get to bed.”

Quenneville acknowledged how tight the game was–with momentum shifts varying as often as shift to shift–and that the Blackhawks will be facing a team prepared to battle harder and harder.

“The series has been close. My whole team is playing hard. We just can’t seem to get that bounce,” Predators Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Pekka (Rinne) was really good. He made some big saves when we needed him to. I thought our team played hard. I thought we played well. We had more than enough looks, more than enough opportunities to end the game.”

In addition to Darling as the likely starting goalie Thursday, the Blackhawks are expected to stick with their lineup.

The Predators have not yet given an update on injured Shea Weber or (day-to-day) Mike Fisher.

The Predators host the Blackhawks at 8:30 p.m. CT Thursday at Bridgestone Arena. It will be broadcast on CSN-CH+, NBCSN, SN360, FS-TN and TVA3.

 

(Author’s note: As always, check the bold links for videos and other tidbits.)

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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