NASHVILLE — Desperation: it usually brings out the best in a team that’s facing it. It’s what can make eliminating a team on the postseason ropes so difficult.
The Blackhawks found that out first hand on Thursday night, when the Predators scored three goals within three-plus minutes to start the third period en route to their 5-2 victory. The Blackhawks, still up 3-2 in the first-round series, will try to wrap this up again at 7 p.m. CT Saturday when they host the Predators in Game 6.
So before we head back home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 5 loss on Thursday night.
1. Scott Darling is fine. The backup-turned-postseason-starting goaltender lost his first playoff game on Thursday night but he could shoulder only so much blame. Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t blaming Darling, and it sounds like he’ll go back to him for Game 6. Darling handled the situation just fine. Considering the adversity he’s gone through in his life in the past, we’re guessing he’ll put the rare (this season) tough outing behind him fast.
2. Regroup faster. James Neal’s wraparound goal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead just 47 seconds into the third period and set the Blackhawks off on a bad chain of events. Michal Rozsival was whistled for a penalty and the Predators scored on that power play. Twelve seconds after that goal the Blackhawks gave up another one to go down 4-1 in no time. As Quenneville said, “we’ve given them some funny goals this series.” Going down 4-1 in about three minutes, however, wasn’t so amusing.
3. Colin Wilson is having himself a series. Of the offensive weapons the Predators have, who would’ve picked this guy to be the one to befuddle the Blackhawks? Wilson had a good regular season, recording 20 goals in 77 games. Well, he now has five — yes five — goals in as many games against the Blackhawks in this series. Not too shabby.
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4. James Neal is warming up, too. The Blackhawks held him off the scoresheet the first three games but he now has three points, including two goals, in the past two games. His goal started the Predators’ third-period barrage on Thursday night. The Blackhawks will have to be careful Neal doesn’t keep hurting them.
5. Home sweet home. The Blackhawks have played well at the United Center the past few postseasons, and they’re 2-0 there in this first-round series. So they’re confident going back there for Game 6. Asked if there’s still hope to finish this off, Brad Richards said, “well, yeah, it’s more than hope. We’ll get up and get back to work here.”