NASHVILLE — It’s certainly not how the Blackhawks would’ve drawn it up: a horrible first period, a 3-0 deficit out of it, a pulled starting goaltender, a second-period comeback and one-plus overtime to get the winner.
Yes, it was an interesting night for the Blackhawks, who started off bad and finished with a flourish and a 4-3 double-overtime victory over the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. This one featured all sorts of drama and, well, some damn awesome playoff hockey from both teams.
So while we still have a little post-deadline adrenaline flowing, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ come-from-behind victory over the Predators.
1. Darling does it again. Scott Darling probably didn’t think his first NHL postseason game would come in relief duty but there it is nonetheless. Darling was in from the second period on, and was outstanding from the third period until Duncan Keith scored the game-winning goal. One stop that will likely get replayed a few times is his stop on Ryan Ellis on a third-period power play. Darling said he did some previous video study on it: “they tried it a few times before and didn’t connect. That one they did it exactly how they wanted to do it and I got a leg over,” he said. “It’s a 50-50 shot: either he gets the top of the net or doesn’t and it hit my leg. So I was happy about that.”
2. Patrick Kane is back. Kane said he felt a little rusty with his timing, something that was expected given he missed the last seven weeks with a fractured clavicle. Nevertheless, he made an impact and it was most noticeable on the power play. The Blackhawks scored two power-play goals on Wednesday, a Patrick Sharp 5-on-3 and a Jonathan Toews 5-on-4 score that tied the game. Even when they didn’t score on it, their possession time and opportunities were much better. Kane was a major contributor to that.
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3. Be ready from the start. The Blackhawks weren’t — clearly — ready at puck drop on Wednesday night. The Predators deserve their share of the credit. They were out to prove something, they had a crowd decidedly on their side and they took advantage of every miscue the Blackhawks committed. The Predators had great chances to win this game, chances that Darling stopped. The Predators will look for the same start on Friday; the Blackhawks have to be more ready for it then than they were on Wednesday.
4. Sticking with it. The Blackhawks haven’t faced many 3-0 first-period deficits in recent playoff games but they have dealt with the ups and downs of postseasons. That experience helped them on Wednesday, when they said they didn’t scream or carry on after a horrible first. “Nobody was too down; we knew we had a lot of time left,” Kane said. “It’s something we’ve been through a lot.”
5. It is just one game. Let’s look at this with a broad scope: the Blackhawks played a tremendous second period but Darling had to come up with some massive saves to keep this game going as long as it did. The Blackhawks will take this one, especially given that bad start. But they know there’s no reason to over-celebrate. Said Keith, “first game in a series. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played.”