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Blackhawks rally, edge Predators in double overtime

by Robby Stanley /

NASHVILLE -- Duncan Keith's goal 7:49 into double overtime completed the Chicago Blackhawks' rally in a 4-3 win against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday.

Keith took a slap shot from the point that found its way through traffic and past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"I can't really remember exactly what happened," Keith said. "I just know that (Marian Hossa) had a nice bank pass to get it back to me. I just tried to get it on net as quick as I could. I don't know if the goalie was able to see it very well. I think we had some guys going to the net, and that helped out on the screen."

Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling made 42 saves after relieving Corey Crawford at the start of the second period.

"Just trying to stop the bleeding," Darling said. "We didn't play very good in the first to help out (Crawford), but they played great in the second period. (Nashville) only managed three shots I think. They played great the whole night for me, and it's awesome."

Chicago fell behind 3-0 in the first period and scored four unanswered goals. Despite the comeback win, the Blackhawks feel they can improve in all areas.

Game 2 will be played at Bridgestone Arena on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, SPSO).

"We know it's one game, and we know just like (Nashville), they're going to probably say the same thing about how there's lot of things we want to improve on as the series goes along," Keith said.

Colin Wilson opened the scoring at 6:07 of the first period on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Crawford. Wilson broke into the offensive zone and went around Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival for the goal.

Viktor Stalberg gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 17:20 of the first period after he stole the puck from behind the goal and put it into an empty net. Crawford went to play the puck and had it poked away by Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok. Stalberg got the puck and beat Crawford back to the net.

Wilson gave the Predators a 3-0 lead on the power play at 19:33 of the first period. Defenseman Seth Jones took the original shot from the point, and Wilson redirected it past Crawford for his second goal.

"He hit another gear," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought our guys played hard tonight. There's a stretch in the second period there where we lost our way, again just for the reason that we're 5-on-4s, 5-on-3s, a little bit of 5-on-5 back to 5-on-4. I think we did a good job of getting back on the train that we needed to be on in order to be successful."

Crawford was pulled in favor of Darling to start the second period. He faced 12 shots in the first.

Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson scored to make it 3-1 at 1:43 of the second period. Hjalmarsson drove to the net and one-timed a pass from Teuvo Teravinen past Rinne.

"(Hjalmarsson) is a guy that brings value to our team in a lot of different ways," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "You don't always see him providing offense, but he steps up with a big goal to kind of ignite the offense a little bit. I thought we played better after that."

Sharp cut the Predators lead to 3-2 at 8:32 of the second with a shot from the crease that snuck past Rinne. The Blackhawks had a two-man advantage, and Sharp took the pass from Patrick Kane, who played for the first time since sustaining a broken left clavicle on Feb. 24.

"I felt a little rusty," Kane said. "It's nothing I didn't really expect after some time off and coming back for the first playoff game. It was good for me to get a game under my belt, even better that we got the win. Hopefully I just keep improving and getting better and better."

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews tied the game 3-3 at 13:50 of the second period on a power-play goal. Toews took the puck from Kane, drove to the net and shot the puck through Rinne's five-hole.

Darling made two highlight-reel saves in the third period to extend the game to overtime. Each team had one power-play opportunity in the first overtime but was unable to convert.

"It was a great opportunity for (Darling), and he seized the moment," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who is expected to name his Game 2 starter on Thursday. "I commend him on everything that he achieved. I think I look back at what he's done for us over the course of the season, every time we put him in the net our team doesn't change our approach. There's a lot of confidence in one another, but today playing a playoff game of this magnitude in that situation, it was one of the greatest relief performances you're going to see."

Predators center Mike Fisher left the game in the second period because of a lower-body injury and did not return. Fisher missed the last two games of the regular season with a lower-body injury. The Predators had to play the remainder of the game with 11 forwards.

"It happened early enough in the game too, where you've got to juggle that position," Laviolette said. "You take a guy out that you could go down a checklist of things that you need from players on the ice, from faceoffs, leadership, power play, penalty kill, checking center, offensive center and just keep checking the box for Mike. When he comes out of the lineup, it's big shoes to fill."

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