The Nashville Predators did not play a full game, and could not keep up with the speed of the Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon. The Preds lost game three by a score of 4-2.
The first period was a very fast-paced, physical period with both teams scoring one goal a piece. The Blackhawks started the scoring at 14:48 with Andrew Desjardins, but the Preds responded 31 seconds later when Mike Ribeiro beat Scott Darling.
Nashville struggled, once again, during the second period as they gave up three goals to the Blackhawks. Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook all scored for Chicago during the second. The lone goal for the Preds was by Mattias Ekholm, 58 seconds into the period.
The Preds were unable to solve Scott Darling in the 3rd period for a final of 4-2.
Nashville will look to rebound after a disappointing performance at the United Center in Chicago.
Keys to Watch
We all know that this is a 7 game series, but if the team doesn’t win tonight, it will be an uphill climb to take this series back. Nashville has to turn the tide, if not, then it will be a rather Herculean task to come back from a 3-1 series deficit against a seasoned-squad in Chicago. There aren’t moral victories anymore. There is not a “we did our best.” The team has to win. This will be difficult, even if Shea Weber and Mike Fisher were in the lineup. This team has to step up and steal one from the Blackhawks. If not, the offseason will come early.
Emergence of Craig Smith
Before the post-season started, we talked about how many young players would have to step up and give Nashville the opportunity in the offensive end. No player has played a bigger role in the offense than Craig Smith. After three games in the series, Smith has two goals and three assists to go with his +3 rating. Smith has been a lightning rod on the offensive end and has shown a physical side to his game. The Preds will need continued play from him to take back the series from the Blackhawks.
Figure out Darling
When Corey Crawford exited game one, Nashville had a 3-0 lead and then they were shut down by Scott Darling. Darling has only allowed two goals in 128 minutes of play. He has been the best player on the ice for Chicago in this series. With a 0.94 GAA, .975 SV %, and both wins in the series, Darling has stonewalled the Preds offense. If Nashville intends on coming away with the victory, Darling has to be figured out.
The Nashville Predators will be in Chicago tonight to even the series at 2-2. The game will have a late start with an 8:30 pm CT puck drop. Tonight’s game will be televised on FOX Sports Tennessee, NBCSN, or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game.