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Blackhawks, Predators want to control pace of Game 4

by Brian Hedger /



Chicago leads best-of-7 series 2-1

Speed is becoming a bigger part of the storyline between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round.

Heading into Game 4 at United Center on Tuesday, each side has a different outlook. The Predators don't mind if the pace stays frenzied. The Blackhawks would prefer a more controlled game.

"They like to create and they've got a lot of speed up front, so for the most part, it's just about getting pucks our of our zone and getting pucks into theirs," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said Monday. "That's very simply put, but the more we can take them away from their speed game, it'll help us for sure."

Nashville, which will be without top defenseman Shea Weber (lower body) for the second straight game, has outshot Chicago in every game. The Predators want things to stay up tempo.

"We've got to outwork them, and we've got to have a bigger work ethic than them," defenseman Roman Josi said Monday after practice. "They're a fast team. They've got a lot of fast players, but we think we're a fast team too, so we've just got to come out with the same energy that we did in the first two games."

Chicago is ahead in the series, where it counts most, but Nashville is winning some statistical measures by wide margins. The Predators have a 126-98 advantage in shots through the first three games and also had the bigger percentage of shot attempts for the first time Sunday in Game 3.

It was partly the result of the Blackhawks sitting back on defense in the third period of their 4-2 win with a two-goal lead, but Nashville's speed was in high gear all game The Predators outshot the Blackhawks 17-10 in the second, but fell behind when they were outscored by two goals.

Chicago rookie goalie Scott Darling had a lot to do with that in his first-ever Stanley Cup Playoffs start, picking up the win after starting for Corey Crawford and making 35 saves. Darling will start again in Game 4, when Chicago can take a 3-1 lead back to Bridgestone Arena for Game 5 on Thursday.

"Another solid game, [Darling] was patient in the net, was big, square, handled the puck well and the guys played well in front of him as well," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Chicago didn't have a full practice Monday, but several players did skate, including Crawford. Forward Daniel Carcillo skated too, after missing the final nine games of the regular season plus the first three playoff games with an upper-body injury. He could be cleared to return Tuesday and Quenneville called him an "option" if he's ready.

Injured Nashville center Mike Fisher (lower body) joined practice late and skated afterward. No update was given on his playing status for Game 4 and he remains day-to-day.

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