The Nashville and Chicago series has been a blockbuster matchup to say the least. The Western Conference first rounder began with the Predators stunning the hockey world by taking the first two games in Chicago, keeping the Blackhawks from scoring a single goal. Monday night, the series moved to Nashville for game 3, the Preds supporters did not disappoint.
During the first period, the Predators were able to build momentum with a lot of shots on goal, but neither team put it in the back of the net during the 1st. Preds goalie Pekka Rinne played remarkably during the first period. One of Rinne’s biggest saves occurred when the Blackhawks cleared the puck, the puck took a strange bounce off the boards and headed straight toward the goal, Rinne dived from behind the goal and tapped the puck with his stick just enough to help it miss the goal. Rinne made numerous saves during the 1st that kept the Blackhawks off the scoreboard time and time again. Blackhawks’ goaltender Corey Crawford was also a big part of the scoreless first period, Crawford may have even outperformed Pekka Rinne in goal considering he had to face the Preds’ momentum-driven offensive outbursts. Both teams exchanged ferocious hits during the 1st period, which heightened the Predators’ home atmosphere and rowdy fans.
The Blackhawks stopped the Predators’ momentum by getting on the board first, scoring early in the second period. Chicago’s Dennis Rasmussen took a pass from the corner and slipped the puck between Pekka Rinne’s legs for the first goal of the game. The goal marked the first lead for the Blackhawks in the series. Patrick Kane added to Chicago’s lead with 8:45 remaining in the second. The goal came during a power play in which Nashville’s Ryan Ellis was tabbed for delay of game. The remainder of the second period went off without a hitch, despite more penalties being called.
The Nashville crowd erupted with 15:36 left in the 3rd when Filip Forsberg cut the Chicago lead in half. Forsberg was able to somehow knock the puck in amongst a crowd of Blackhawks and Predators players in front of the goal. The 2-1 tally got the crowd back in the game and gave Bridgestone Arena a new energy. The two teams exchanged blows and had quite a few chances in the third period. The Predators’ fans went mad with just under 6 minutes when Filip Forsberg shot from the slot and blasted the back of the net. Forsberg, himself, shot the Preds back into the game and tied it up late in the 3rd with the timely goal. With emotions at the boiling point, neither team could score the winning goal in regulation, and they went to overtime with the game tied at 2.
Chicago threw everything they had at the goal early in the overtime period, while the pace of play raced by. Pekka Rinne once again made a big impact, saving a couple rough shots from Chicago. Nashville put up quite a few chances themselves, P.K. Subban almost ended it with a slapshot that Hawks’ Corey Crawford just knocked away. Preds’ Kevin Fiala also had a good chance on goal, with an open shot from deep, his shot just went high. Hawks’ Corey Crawford made a game-saving play when he denied Kevin Fiala right in front of the goal. That play might have been the most crucial save of the game. Nashville defender Ryan Ellis also got his chances in OT with two big slapshots that missed the net. The play of the game was made when Kevin Fiala put back a shot in front of the goal to give the Predators instant victory in overtime! That moment might have been one of the greatest goals in Predators playoff history!
With the series in favor of the Predators at 3-0, Chicago and Nashville will meet again on Thursday night at 7:00 P.M in Nashville. Nashville will have the chance to make a huge statement and sweep the series against the Blackhawks with the game on Thursday.