(SportsNetwork.com) – The Chicago Blackhawks will get a second chance to close
out the Nashville Predators and this time they’ll be on home ice.
With a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals, the
Blackhawks welcome the Predators for Saturday’s Game 6 at United Center.
Chicago claimed a three games to one lead in this series after winning
Tuesday’s Game 4 in the Windy City in triple overtime. However, the Predators
answered that 3-2 loss by avoiding elimination with a 5-2 decision in
Thursday’s rematch at Bridgestone Arena.
Filip Forsberg posted a hat trick and Nashville used a three-goal barrage
early in the final period to stave off elimination with the lopsided home
Forsberg turned in a huge performance on the same night he was left out of
conversation for the Calder Trophy. The three finalists for the rookie award
were announced Thursday night with Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Florida’s Aaron
Ekblad and Ottawa’s Mark Stone filling up the spots. Meanwhile, Forsberg, who
finished a point behind Gaudreau and Stone for the rookie scoring lead this
season, was snubbed for a Calder finalist spot.
The 20-year-old Swede proved his worth hours later, however, scoring three
times to bring his series total to four goals.
Forsberg made it 1-1 in the first period, tallying 75 seconds after Brad
Richards gave Chicago the early lead with 6:33 remaining in the opening
stanza. His second marker made it a 4-1 game early in the third period and he
capped the hat trick with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
“For Filip to come out and score some big goals for us, I think he has been
our guy all year,” Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We have really
counted on him to produce offense and we put ourselves in a situation where
our back is against the wall. We need to get big performances out of our
players. I think that speaks a lot of him.”
James Neal added a goal and an assist, Colin Wilson also lit the lamp and
Pekka Rinne made 28 saves for the Predators, who scored three times in the
first 3:14 of the third to subdue the Blackhawks.
“They got three quick goals and those were the difference,” Blackhawks coach
Joel Quenneville said.
Kris Versteeg joined Richards as the goal-scorers for Chicago, which had taken
Games 3 and 4 at home.
The Blackhawks hope to stay perfect as the host in this series to close out
the series tonight. If Nashville can produce another victory, the clubs will
meet Monday for a Game 7 in the Music City.
Scott Darling allowed four goals on 28 shots in Thursday’s loss, but he will
get the start again tonight over Corey Crawford.
Nashville will have to pull off the comeback without captain and star
defenseman Shea Weber, who has been ruled out for the rest of the series with
a lower-body injury. Weber suffered the injury in Game 2 before missing the
last three contests.
The Blackhawks went 3-1-0 versus the Predators this season and won both
meetings at the United Center.
Chicago and Nashville have met once previously in the postseason, a 2010
conference quarterfinal series that Chicago won in six games.