CHICAGO -- It spanned two days, had 101:00 of playing time, 100 combined shots on goal, took 4 hours, 31 minutes to complete and finished with a familiar sight inside United Center early Wednesday.
Once again, it was defenseman Brent Seabrook who scored a game-winning goal in overtime for the Chicago Blackhawks, who beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 on his one-timer from the blue line 1:00 into triple overtime of Game 4 in the Western Conference First Round.
Seabrook's third career playoff overtime goal didn't end the best-of-7 series, like his game-winner in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals did. But it did give Chicago a 3-1 lead heading back to Bridgestone Arena for Game 5 on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, FS-TN).
"I don't know if guys were excited I scored or excited the game was over," said Seabrook, who logged 33:30 on 50 shifts. "It was one of those games. It was tough. Both teams, I think, are going to feel it in the morning, but we're happy with the outcome and we've got to move on to Game 5."
It was the longest game in Predators history. The previous franchise record for longest game was 94:51 on April 30, 2011, when they won 2-1 at the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Blackhawks' were closing in on their all-time mark for longest game, which is 113:50 set on April 9, 1931, at the Montreal Canadiens.
Two of the Blackhawks' three victories in this series happened after 80 minutes of play; defenseman Duncan Keith won Game 1 at 7:49 of double overtime in Nashville. Asked if the Blackhawks plan to treat the short turnaround before Game 5 like a back-to-back situation, Seabrook chuckled.
"A back-to-back?" he said. "I don't know what that is. We played a back-to-back tonight, I think. You look at this opening series, and we've played five overtime periods in four games. It's a grind. It's a battle. It definitely tests you. You've just got to continue to play. You can't really explain it. You're just playing. You're playing to win the game and you're playing to win the series."
One more win and the Blackhawks will accomplish the latter, but it hasn't easy getting to this point. The Predators outshot them again, 52-48, and have had more shots on goal in each of the four games. Nashville also blocked 39 shots and leads that category for the series as well.
To this point, the difference has come down to clutch goals in the three Chicago wins, with Seabrook's the most memorable because of how long the game took and how many times it could have ended. Each goalie was razor sharp, especially in the first two overtime periods. Chicago rookie goalie Scott Darling finished with 50 saves; Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne made 45 saves. The shot he'll try to erase is Seabrook's slap shot to end it.
Patrick Kane started the play when he stole the puck in the neutral zone and carried into the Predators' zone. Kane got it back off a cycle and sent a feed to Seabrook at the blue line for the shot. The puck was bouncing a lot as the game went on, but the ice was still smooth so early into the third overtime.
Seabrook fired from straightaway through a screen set by teammate Bryan Bickell standing in front of Rinne. Just that quickly the Blackhawks were rewarded and the Predators left the ice dejected. They came so close to winning, even without injured captain Shea Weber (lower body) and injured forward Mike Fisher (lower body).
"The series has been close," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "My whole team is playing hard. We just can't seem to get that bounce. Pekka was really good tonight. [He] made some big saves when we needed him to. I thought our team played hard. I thought we played well. We had more than enough looks, more than enough opportunities to end the game. Like I said, we just couldn't get that final one to break."
Chicago had two power plays in the second overtime and Nashville had one, but neither team generated much offense with the extra man.
The overtime periods almost made regulation an afterthought, but Nashville's goals in regulation were scored by forward Craig Wilson and Neal, who gave the Predators a 2-1 lead when he scored at 17:02 of the second period. Chicago got regulation goals from forwards Antoine Vermette - who scored his first goal as a Blackhawk -- and Brandon Saad, who tied it 2-2 at 11:03 of the third with his second goal in as many games.
Saad's goal was set up by Marian Hossa's drop pass. Saad returned the favor with 10 seconds left in regulation for a one-timer that nearly prevented overtime. Rinne stopped it and set the stage for the early-morning drama, which included the puck getting lost in Rinne's gear in the second overtime.
The Predators know they can't dwell on the one that got away.
"Obviously, mentally, it's disappointing right now," Nashville defenseman Roman Josi said. "I mean, if you go to third overtime and you lose the game, it's disappointing right now. But we have to put it behind us as soon as possible. This isn't over, so we have to look forward to Game 5."