Blackhawks

Blackhawks win triple-OT thriller over Predators in Game 4

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Blackhawks win triple-OT thriller over Predators in Game 4

Brent Seabrook was asked on Monday afternoon about some of the biggest goals of his career. Not surprisingly, his Game 7 winner against the Detroit Red Wings two years ago was up there.

He added another one to the list early Wednesday morning.

Scott Darling stopped 50 shots and Seabrook scored the game winner one minute into triple overtime as the Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators, 3-2, at United Center. The Blackhawks took a 3-1 lead in their first-round series, which continues at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Nashville.

[MORE: WATCH: Vermette scores first goal as a member of Blackhawks]

For Seabrook, this was his third career postseason game-winning goal. Perhaps it was because he and his teammates were tired or maybe it was because it gave the Blackhawks a big lead in this series, but this one may have usurped the Detroit one.

“That might’ve been the biggest,” he said. “It was a long game, it’s a late night. It’s nice to be done with that one. They’ve done a great job all series long of getting in our lanes; I think I had four or five shots tonight hitting sticks and bouncing off knee pads and skates and whatnot. [Patrick Kane] made a great play coming up the boards and laid it in there for me and I just tried to get it on net as hard as I could.”

It was the third triple-overtime game the Blackhawks have played in the last three postseasons. This one featured more great play, more close-call shots and, of course, a lot of careful play as the minutes elapsed. Sixty seconds into that third overtime, with Bryan Bickell parked in front of Pekka Rinne, Seabrook fired.

“He’s had some big ones,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Seabrook’s winner. “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.”

Antoine Vermette scored his first postseason goal with the Blackhawks in the first period. Brandon Saad, off a drop pass from Marian Hossa, tied the game at 2-2 with about nine minutes remaining in regulation.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

As with most lengthy overtime playoff games, the goaltenders had their incredible stops. Darling stopped 50 of 52 shots. Rinne, who denied Hossa on a point-blank shot at the end of regulation, stopped 45 of 48. For Darling, it was one more memorable night in a postseason that’s quickly accumulating several of them.

“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.”

We’ve all watched these overtime games before. It usually comes down to a tip, or a shot with traffic. One way or another, someone comes through with a big shot at a critical time. It wasn’t a complete surprise that it was Seabrook.

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

 

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Predicting who Blackhawks will take at No. 3 overall

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the Olli Maatta trade and how this impacts the Blackhawks' defensive group. Is this the first of more moves to come?

The guys then break down their top-three candidates for the Blackhawks at No. 3 overall and predict who the pick will be on Friday. They also discuss how the Blackhawks' selection may impact the offseason and the big picture going forward.

0:40 – Initial reaction to the Olli Maatta trade

3:45 – How Maatta fits with the Blackhawks

7:45 – Filling Dominik Kahun’s spot

10:00 – Maatta’s contract situation

11:00 – Our top-3 draft predictions

18:30 – Official predictions on who the Blackhawks will pick

24:30 – Is there a wrong pick in the top 10?

27:30 – If the Blackhawks don’t pick D, the forward is…?

29:30 – How the Blackhawks selections shape the offseason

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

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USA TODAY

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

The 2019 NHL free agent class — both restricted and unrestricted — is absolutely loaded. But perhaps the biggest fish of them all has already been taken off the board.

Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks have agreed to an eight-year extension worth $11.5 million per year, according to Cap Friendly, becoming the highest-paid defenseman in league history. It’s a significant move for the Sharks, who are looking to keep the band together and take a few more stabs at a Stanley Cup before their window starts to close — Joe Thornton is 39, Joe Pavelski turns 35 in July, Brent Burns is 34, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 32 and Logan Couture is 30.

How the Sharks make the math work going forward will be fascinating to monitor. Thornton, if he doesn't decide to hang up the skates, is a UFA. Same with Pavelski, who is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. Both of those players have become part of the Sharks identity, but their futures aren't guaranteed. And then there are guys like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier, both of whom are RFAs and due big raises.

So how does the Karlsson extension impact the Blackhawks and the rest of the Western Conference?

For starters, the UFA defensemen class just got thinner and that could lead to overpayment across the board from teams looking for impact-type blue-liners because general managers that are looking to make a splash don’t want to come away empty-handed. The Blackhawks were never going to be in on Karlsson, but his contract set the market for this year's class and the fact the signing came before the NHL Draft now gives teams that would've been in on Karlsson an opportunity to refocus ahead of the negotiating period.

In the bigger picture, the Sharks just solidified themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for at least the next couple seasons. While the Karlsson contract may not look the greatest on the back half, given his durability issues, the Sharks had no choice but to offer him a blank check. When healthy, he is a game-changer and a two-time Norris Trophy winner who's still in his prime, and if the Sharks win a title in the next couple years then it was well worth it. You don't let players like him walk.

The Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive over the next several weeks, particularly in free agency but also continuing to explore the trade market. We already saw that when they acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that could only be the first of many this offseason. The West might be top heavy, but this past season proved that any team can turn it around quickly and the Blackhawks need to do everything in their power to make sure they're one of those teams.

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