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Five Things from Game 4: A marathon win for Blackhawks

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Five Things from Game 4: A marathon win for Blackhawks

 

Ah, the lengthy overtime game. It’s a joy to watch for anyone who’s a fan of the game, albeit probably nerve-wracking for certain teams’ fans.

And they’re exhausting for the players, although wins certainly make them feel somewhat better. So the Blackhawks were feeling happy tired instead of deflated in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, moments after Brent Seabrook’s overtime shot gave them a 3-2 triple-overtime victory over the Nashville Predators.

[WATCH: Brent Seabrook sends Blackhawks home winners]

Now it’s time for ice packs, fluids, food and plenty of sleep – for the players, not us. Before we pack up, we bring you Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory, which gives them a 3-1 lead in this first-round series.

1. Brent Seabrook capitalizes again. He said this overtime game-winner may rank higher than the one he had against Detroit back in 2013. We’re guessing that’s mainly fatigue talking, but there’s no doubt this was big. The Blackhawks didn’t want to go back to Nashville tied 2-2 in this series; it’ll be hard enough to get that fourth game off the Predators, even up 3-1. Seabrook’s winner gave the Blackhawks momentum going into a hostile building.

2. Antoine Vermette breaks through. Vermette’s face was a mix of joy and relief on Wednesday morning, a few hours after he scored his first postseason goal in a Blackhawks uniform. “It’s a sense of happiness and relief. But that being said, it was early, we were focused, we a lot of work ahead and you want to keep playing,” said Vermette. He played just under 20 minutes, winning 12 of 20 faceoffs.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Duncan Keith, marathon man. As coach Joel Quenneville said, if you see anyone else log 46 minutes, 19 seconds over five-plus periods of hockey, you may be stunned. With Keith, the Blackhawksaren’t surprised. Said Quenneville, “a lot of guys at the end of the night, look at the sheet and say, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of ice time.’ Other guys it doesn’t phase a bit. I think we’re accustomed to him playing significant minutes in games like this.” Keith had a team-high seven shots on goal, two hits and three blocked shots.

4. Scott Darling adds to the résumé. Darling was understandably tired after this on, and a little sore – “wearing skates for four or five hours doesn’t feel good,” he said. Nevertheless Darling was great once again, stopping 50 of 52 shots for his third postseason victory. He’s come into a playoff game in relief, he’s started his first NHL postseason contest and he’s now gone wire to wire in a triple-overtime game. He’s handling it all very well.

5. Does the momentum last? Let’s not kid ourselves: the Blackhawks may be up 3-1 but this series has been incredibly close. The Predators could easily have the same best-of-seven lead right now. It’s been a game of inches, and the Blackhawks head to Nashville with a chance to close this one out. Do they do that? They’ll have to ride this momentum to do so and dredge up some energy. But don’t be surprised if Game 5 is as riveting as Games 1 and 3 have been, and expect Nashville to come with everything it has left to give. 

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?