Predators nip Blackhawks in OT for 3-0 series lead

Corey Crawford’s left leg straightened and Kevin Fiala’s neck craned upward.

Another inch or two of loft on Fiala's whistling wrist shot from the slot and he would've been engraved in Predators history.

“I was pretty angry there," he said. "I could’ve finished it there."

But what are sports without redemption? If anything, the rookie forward's overtime game-winner three minutes later, his backhand drive narrowly gliding by Crawford's outstretched glove, is made more memorable because of it.

“We believed we can do it," Fiala said after clinching the Predators' 3-2 comeback win in Game 3 of their first-round series Monday. "And we did it."

A 3-0 series lead, which Nashville never had before Monday, has virtually guaranteed a best-of-seven victory throughout NHL history.

Four teams in the Blackhawks' position out of 182 have overcome such a deficit. With two days before Game 4 on Thursday, excitement and tension has time to incubate before the series resumes.

"It was a huge goal for this night," said Predators forward Filip Forsberg, who forced overtime with two third-period goals. "We'd rather be up 3-0 than 2-1, but we still have a long way to go."

Bridgestone Arena rattled in anticipation, the crowd of 17,204 stoked to welcome back the Predators from consecutive shutout victories in Chicago.

The spine-tingling bass from the warm-up playlist vibrated each seat. Carrie Underwood, wearing husband Mike Fisher's jersey, sang the national anthem, punctuated by multiple catfish plopping onto the ice surface. The hipper among us would say that Nashville was lit.

The Predators transferred that energy into their first-period effort, dominating the shot (18) and shot-attempt (35) counters, but not the scoreboard.

"One Goal" is the Blackhawks' marketing slogan. It was also their motto after two shutout losses.

Chicago eventually was going to score, despite Nashville's attempt to prevent it. Two goals in the second period from forwards Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane, the first of which ended Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne's shutout streak at 141:05, put the Blackhawks 20 minutes from changing the complexion of this series.

A multi-goal hole, however, has never bothered the Predators, who won six games during the regular season when trailing by two goals or more.

Forsberg, center Ryan Johansen and forward Viktor Arvidsson pounded the Blackhawks with shot attempts and scoring chances throughout Monday's game, so it seemed inevitable that at least one would go in. Two would do.

“Once you do something, you can say, ‘Hey, we’ve done that before.’ " Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of his team's knack for mounting comebacks. "We have fought back. I think our guys, they don’t have a confidence issue when it comes to scoring goals.”

Here's a statement unlikely to have been said or written last week — the Predators can sweep the Blackhawks. It could happen Thursday.

"We're happy with the situation we're in, but if there's one team that's resilient, it's the Blackhawks," Johansen said. "Shift after shift, game after game, they come. It's not over yet."

Reach Adam Vingan at avingan@tennessean.com and on Twitter @AdamVingan.

This story originally appeared on The Tennessean’s website.

PREDATORS vs. BLACKHAWKS

Predators lead series 3-0

Game 1: Nashville 1, Chicago 0

Game 2: Nashville 5, Chicago 0

Game 3: Nashville 3, Chicago 2 (OT)

Thursday: at Nashville, 7 p.m. CT

x - Saturday: at Chicago, TBA

x - Monday: at Nashville, TBA

x - Wednesday, April 26: at Chicago, TBA

x - If necessary

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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