The Nashville Predators needed the win in Game 4 in order to tie the series but the Chicago Blackhawks took a stranglehold on the series with a 3-2 win in triple overtime. The first period had a fast paced start with the Predators getting the first four shots on goal, but it didn’t take long for the Blackhawks to match their intensity.
The first power play of the game came on a hooking penalty to Bryan Bickell midway through the first period. After a sequence of good puck movement in the offensive zone, Ryan Ellis sent a long shot toward the net and Colin Wilson tipped the puck in for the first goal of the game at 11:38 into the game.
Not long after the Predators opened the scoring, with Pekka Rinne pulled to the right post, Michal Rozsival found Antoine Vermette in the slot who was just able to catch the puck with the tip of his stick to redirect it into the left corner at 13:05 in the first.
When the puck dropped for the second period, many Predators fans would understandably be nervous. The Blackhawks have outscored the Predators in the second period in both of their wins, and in the last stretch of the season, Nashville has largely been outplayed in the second period. Game 4 finally saw a turnaround in this trend as the Predators outshot the Blackhawks 14-7 and took the lead at 17:10 in the second. In Game 3, 71% of James Neal’s ice time was against Chicago’s top defensive pairing and largely against the Jonathan Toews line, and he was limited to 1 shot on goal. Coach Peter Laviolette shifted him to the line with Calle Jarnkrok and Kevin Fiala and it paid off as he had 5 shots on goal and scored his first goal of the series. After stripping the puck from Duncan Keith in front of the net as the Chicago defender was clearing a shot attempt from Matt Cullen, he quickly wristed it past Darling.
It would be the first time the Predators have outscored their opponent since the 3-0 shutout over Buffalo on March 21, with twelve consecutive games at even scoring or being outscored in the second.
In the third period, the Predators drew a power play but things turned around quickly when they gave up a breakaway and took a penalty to put the teams 4 on 4. Soon after, Patrick Kane drew a penalty to give the Blackhawks their first full power play of the game. The Predators killed the penalty but the Blackhawks kept control for much of the remaining period.
After the midpoint of the third period, Hossa came in from the wing crossing above the dots and was able to draw Roman Josi towards the corner. WIth both Seth Jones and Josi caught puck watching, he was able to find Brandon Saad with a clear shot to tie the game. Rinne had to come up with several big saves to keep the Predators in the game as the Blackhawks ended the period strongly, outshooting the Predators 12-5 in the third.
For the second time in the series, overtime would be needed. It was an intense overtime, with the Predators and Blackhawks exchanging chances and both goalies had to be strong in net to keep the game alive
With 5:34 remaining in 1OT, Rinne went to play the puck behind the net but it became lodged in his pads, and a moment of levity ensued as Rinne, teammates and the officials went through a lengthy hunt looking through Rinne’s equipment and uniform to find the puck. The first overtime ended with shots 13-10 in favor of the Predators.
things were starting to get weird pic.twitter.com/kPJ2nBnKqJ
— Stephanie (@myregularface) April 22, 2015
The Predators were tested early in the second overtime and had to kill a penalty, but the Predators held off the early onslaught and answered back with chances of their own. Towards the end of 2OT, Nashville faced the penalty kill again but it was cut short when Andrew Shaw took a slashing penalty. The Predators then had 1:16 of power play time but were unable to convert and the franchise would see their first triple overtime in a game that was now the longest in franchise history
However, triple overtime would be short lived, as Brent Seabrook scored the gamewinner on a slapshot after taking a pass from Kane.
With Shea Weber still out, Nashville’s defensemen were majorly tested in a multiple overtime. Josi, Jones, Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm all saw over 40 minutes of ice time, as Cody Franson and Victor Bartley received very limited minutes. Josi set a franchise record for time on ice at 45:06. Kevin Fiala also saw his first action in an NHL playoff game in only his second game in the NHL.
Pekka Rinne played a stellar game, making 45 saves, but Scott Darling continued in his dominance over the Predators this season, making 50 saves to help lead the Blackhawks to victory. The Predators face an uphill battle as the series comes back to Nashville on Thursday, April 23 for Game 5.