Preds, Hawks go to triple-overtime in Game 4 – and once again, Chicago has just enough to win & take series stranglehold

Hawks stars Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith celebrate after Seabrook scored in triple-overtime to win Game 4 of Chicago's first-round series against the Nashville Predators. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

After falling behind 2 games to 1 in their first round series with the Blackhawks and facing the prospect of having to win three games in a row to stave off elimination, the Nashville Predators had to be treating Game 4 Tuesday as a must-win scenario. Playing for the second straight game without star defenseman and captain Shea Weber, the Preds displayed the urgency the moment demanded and had a 2-1 lead midway through the third period. The Hawks were their typically resilient selves and tied it on Brandon Saad’s second of the post-season with 8:57 left in regulation – and that’s when the Great Overtime Caper of 2015 began.

By the end of it – on the 100th shot of the game at at exactly one minute of the third OT period – the Hawks were victorious again (this time, via a 3-2 final score) thanks to Brent Seabrook’s game-winner, and the Preds were on the brink of another first-round exit: Read more

Recent healthy scratch Antoine Vermette scores first playoff goal for Hawks in Game 4

Blackhawks center Antoine Vermette and Predators forward Paul Gaustad battle next to Preds goalie Pekka Rinne in Game 4 of Nashville's first-round series against Chicago. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Veteran center Antoine Vermette sat in the press box as a healthy scratch in the first two games of Chicago’s first-round series against Nashville, but in Game 4 Tuesday, he made a case for remaining in the lineup by scoring his first playoff goal for the Blackhawks.

Playing before a typically raucous home crowd, Chicago had just fallen behind 1-0 to the Preds a little more than midway through the first period when Vermette moved to the middle of the ice a few feet from Preds goalie Pekka Rinne and was able to redirect a pass from Michal Rozsival into the visitors’ net: Read more

Shea Weber-less Predators won’t last long in series against Hawks if injured captain can’t return soon

Predators captain Shea Weber, before Game Two of Nashville's first-round series against Chicago. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

With Shea Weber in the lineup for their first two first-round games against Chicago, the Nashville Predators have shown they can compete against and beat the mighty Hawks. But without their injured captain during a 4-2 Game 3 loss Sunday at the United Center, the Preds looked very much like a team without its most important player. And those type of teams don’t normally win playoff series.

The Blackhawks needed overtime to claw out a 4-3 win in Game 1, and had their assets handed to them in a 6-2 loss to Nashville Friday. But they lost Weber to a lower-body injury (read: a knee or ankle injury) midway through the second period of Game 2, and if you needed any proof as to the 29-year-old’s value (or the reason why some of us voted for him as our first choice for the Norris Trophy), it was right there for you to gawk at in Game 3. If he’s not back in the lineup soon – and he’s not expected back for Game 4 Tuesday – it’s very likely his teammates will be joining him on the sidelines for the summer. Read more

Shocker: Jonathan Toews comes through at playoff time for Hawks with goal, assist in Game 3

Chicago's Jonathan Toews looks to pass as he curls around Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. (Joanthan Daniel/Getty Images)

If it’s playoff time, it’s time for Jonathan Toews to shine. The Blackhawks star proved that yet again Sunday in Game 3 of his team’s first-round series against Nashville, scoring Chicago’s second goal of the day and chipping in a dandy of a first assist to put the Hawks up 4-2.

With the teams tied at one game apiece in the series and the Game 3 score tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play at Chicago’s United Center, Toews came out and scored just 36 seconds into the second period on a wicked wrist shot that beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne: Read more

Predators shell Corey Crawford, lose Shea Weber to injury

Filip Forsberg

The Nashville Predators won’t be celebrating too loudly following their 6-2 win over Chicago.

Nashville lit the lamp six times on Corey Crawford but lost captain Shea Weber to injury in a costly but convincing Game 2 win against the Blackhawks.

Weber went down with an apparent ankle injury in the second period after taking a hit from Brandon Saad, whose skate appeared to clip Weber’s ankle. Weber left the game immediately and did not return.
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Which Game 1 loser faces the most pressure to win Game 2?

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

If you’ve just lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs or if you’re annoyed at the header of this article, you’re likely thinking, “Sheesh, it’s one game, this is not news, mountain out of a molehill,” etc. And you’d be right in certain cases. You’d be wrong in others, however. No two series are created equal, and some Game 1 defeats were more alarming than others.

Here’s a brief rundown of the Game 1 losers, ranked from most justified in panicking to least.

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John Klingberg deal good for the player, potentially better for Dallas Stars

John Klingberg (right) and Tyler Seguin (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s not exactly Evan Longoria-like, but if you can come up with a player with less NHL experience who has ever signed a longer, more lucrative contract than John Klingberg has with the Dallas Stars, let us know.

Because we certainly can’t come up with one. After just 65 games in the best league in the world and only 13 in the American League prior to that, and coming off double hip surgery last summer, Klingberg signed a seven-year deal with the Stars worth $29.75 million. It’s a contract that will take him and the Stars through the 2021-22 season. (Longoria, the superstar third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, agreed to a six-year contract extension in 2008 worth $17.5 million just six games into his major league career, a deal that has since been extended.) Read more

Experienced Blackhawks, led by rookie Darling, make improbable comeback to take Game 1 in double OT

Scott Darling (John Russell/Getty Images)

If the Nashville Predators are going to even up their series against the Chicago Blackhawks, they’re going to have to need short memories because otherwise this loss could stick with them for a while.

After Nashville took a 3-0 lead in the first period on two goals by Colin Wilson and one by Viktor Stalberg, Chicago dominated for long stretches of the second period, vanquished their three-goal deficit and headed into the third period with the score tied. And while Duncan Keith’s game-winning goal will go down as the shot that ultimately won the game in double overtime, it was the play of rookie goaltender Scott Darling that was truly the story. Read more