Calling it simply, “the longest game in Nashville Predators' franchise history” doesn’t quite do it justice.
The Predators and Chicago Blackhawks went three overtimes before Brent Seabrook’s slapper from the point found its way through traffic and into the net for a 3-2 Hawks victory.
Nashville came up a tally short in a Game Four that featured 101 minutes of action, a century’s total of shots and one final tally that wrenched away the Preds chance at a tie series and home ice advantage restored. Now Game Five at Bridgestone Arena is up next on the docket for Nashville, and the club knows it’s the definition of a must-win.
“I thought our team played hard,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought we played well. We had more than enough looks, more than enough opportunities to end the game, we just couldn’t get the final one to break.”
Similar to Game One’s defeat in double overtime, the Predators never trailed in the contest, claiming leads of 1-0 and 2-1, the second of which held late into regulation.
But Brandon Saad walked down the slot and fired a wrister to tie the contest at 11:03 of the third before two-plus periods of OT saw both teams flirt with declaring themselves the victor in a pivotal Game Four. Ultimately, Seabrook’s tally at 1:00 of the third overtime session was the difference.
Just over 11 minutes into the first period, Colin Wilson’s deflection put the Predators ahead 1-0 for the third time in the series, with all of the goals being scored by the forward. Antoine Vermette knotted the game 1:27 later, on a floating shot that found its way past Pekka Rinne.
Nashville reclaimed a one-goal advantage with a strong second-period performance, something that has proved to be a rarity in this Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup. Chicago held a 7-2 scoring edge in the middle frame going into Tuesday night’s play.
Matt Cullen swung a centering feed into the slot that deflected off Duncan Keith’s skate before James Neal, ever so softly, tucked the puck past Scott Darling and into the cage for a 2-1 lead.
Saad’s second score in as many games propelled the game into OT, where the Blackhawks secured a three-overtime victory and a three games to one series lead.
“We’ve done a good job of putting games in the trash can, and that’s what you have to do here,” defenseman Seth Jones said. “You have to take it one game at a time. [The series is] 3-1 [Chicago], but it’s not over yet.”
“I know eventually the sun will come up tomorrow and our guys will easily regroup,” Laviolette said. “They will not cave, they will not go away quietly and they’ll be ready to play in Game Five, I promise you.”
Nashville’s longest game in franchise history lasted exactly 101 minutes, shattering the old record of 94:51. Game Four marked the first time that the Preds have ever played in triple overtime.
Kevin Fiala, at the age of 18, made his NHL postseason debut on Tuesday, becoming the sixth youngest player in League history to play in his initial playoff game. Taylor Beck was a healthy scratch as a result.
Mike Fisher (lower-body, day-to-day) took part in the morning skate prior to the contest, but did not play later that evening. Shea Weber (lower-body), Eric Nystrom (lower-body), Taylor Beck and Anton Volchenkov were all scratched for the game.
Game One between the two foes ended in double overtime. Through four games in the series, the two clubs have played in 17 separate periods of hockey.
Game Five is set for Thursday in Nashville, an 8:30 p.m. CT start time.