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Predators, Blackhawks make changes prior to Game 3

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com

PREDATORS AT BLACKHAWKS

TV: NBC, TVA, SN

Best-of-7 series is tied 1-1

The Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks each made news during an off day Saturday, prior to Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round series.

The Predators, who won 6-2 at Bridgestone Arena on Friday in Game 2 to tie the best-of-7 series 1-1, said defenseman Shea Weber wouldn’t make the trip to Chicago for the next two games at United Center because of a lower-body injury. Weber sustained the injury in the second period of Game 2 and did not return.

Nashville, which scored four straight goals after Weber left, said no further updates will be given until the series shifts back to Bridgestone Arena for Game 5 on Wednesday. The Predators might play without Weber and injured center Mike Fisher (lower body), who missed Game 2 and is day-to-day.

"I thought we responded pretty good to Mike coming out of the lineup, and we certainly responded when Shea went down in the game," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "I think everybody gets affected a little bit. I don’t think one person can jump in and do what Shea does, but I think by committee you usually try to handle stuff like that."

Predators defenseman Seth Jones could have his role increase, but Laviolette was tight-lipped about his plan to play without Weber. He’ll gauge how the game is going and determine whether to use all six defensemen or go primarily with five. Anton Volchenkov or Victor Bartley will fill the vacancy.

The Blackhawks made headlines with their goaltending situation.

Backup Scott Darling will make his first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in place of regular starter Corey Crawford. Darling made 42 saves and didn’t allow a goal after relieving Crawford during the Blackhawks’ 4-3 win in double overtime of Game 1. Crawford has allowed nine goals on 47 shots in four periods (.809 save percentage) during the playoffs.

Crawford, who allowed the six goals in Game 2, will be benched for a playoff game for the first time since becoming the Blackhawks’ starting goalie in 2010-11. He’s started the past 57 postseason games for Chicago, including 23 when the Blackhawks won the 2013 Stanley Cup.

"We never go any further than the next game when we’re talking goalies," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "[Crawford’s] been our starter here for every [playoff] game for a long stretch of games here. This year, Scott came in and played one of those games that was an amazing performance and put us in a pretty good spot. [It’s] still early and a lot of hockey to be played here, but we’re only looking to the one game."

Quenneville said there could be other lineup changes Sunday but didn’t get into specifics.

Forwards Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins, acquired prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, were scratched in the first two games. One or both could be inserted into the lineup, and defensemen Kyle Cumiskey or David Rundblad could too.

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