Blackhawks weather Preds' storm in their house, then get sloppy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kris Versteeg told us a storm was coming. Just like plenty of the Chicago weather forecasters, though, he was just a bit off on its timing.

“This team in their building might be the best starting team in the league,” Versteeg said before the Hawks took on Nashville in Game 5 with a chance to eliminate the pesky Predators on Thursday. “They always find a way to come out blazing and find a way to score a goal here or there. …

“We're going to have to find ways to take the crowd out of it and weather a storm that's gonna come.”

Mission accomplished for the first 40 minutes, but it was the first 3:14 of the third period that catapulted Nashville to a 5-2 victory and forced a Game 6 that will be Saturday night at the United Center.

“We just got sloppy,” Brad Richards said. “We'll get back to being stingier and paying attention to details. Just got a little out of control there.”

James Neal, Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg beat Scott Darling three times in a span of less than 2½ minutes early in the third period as Nashville snapped a 1-1 tie and quickly built a 4-1 advantage.

“Every goal we gave them was a breakdown by us or plays that we really can't let happen,” Patrick Kane said. “We have to fix that, especially going into a huge Game 6 coming up.”

The tidal wave began when Darling got himself too far out of position with Neal bearing down on him. The Predators' winger skated behind the net and wrapped it in as Darling had no chance to get back into position.

“We've given up some funny goals this playoff series,” said Quenneville, who also wasn't happy when Corey Crawford got pick-pocketed in Game 1. That led to an easy Viktor Stalberg goal.

Nashville's next goal was on a power play by Wilson, who worked a give-and-go with Mike Ribeiro, sneaked past Duncan Keith and flipped the puck past Darling.

Twelve seconds later, Mike Fisher threw a cross-ice pass to Forsberg, who easily slammed the puck home for his second goal of the game.

Versteeg gave the Hawks brief hope with 5:08 left after taking a gorgeous pass from Kane, but Forsberg put in an empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining to force a sixth game. If you lost track, yes, Forsberg finished with 3 goals.

Darling came into the game with a .969 save percentage in the series and turned away 20 of Nashville's first 21 shots, but the Preds cashed in on 3 of their 7 shots at Darling in the third period.

“I have to make a couple of saves there,” Darling said. “It's not how you want to start a period, me or the team.”

Said Kane: “He's played great since he's been called upon. On those goals tonight, I don't know if he had a chance on any of them.”

Afterward, Quenneville was asked if Darling was still his man in net.

“We'll talk about it, but he did everything right,” Quenneville said. “He was fine.”

So while the Hawks obviously would have preferred to close things out in five games — especially with the St. Louis-Minnesota series tied at 2-2 — Kane still likes his team's chances.

“I think if you told us we'd be up 3-2 heading back to our building for Game 6, we'd be excited about that,” he said. “We'd take that at the beginning of the series. We still feel we're in a good situation. We'll move on, try to get as much rest as possible and be ready come Saturday.”

• Follow John's Hawks reports on Twitter @johndietzdh.

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Images: Blackhawks fall to Predators in game five, 5-2

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) skates to the bench as Nashville Predators celebrate a goal by Colin Wilson (33) during the third period of Game 5 in Nashville. Associated Press

3 stars of the game

1. Nashville's Filip Forsberg. Scored twice, first erasing early 1-0 Hawks lead, then making it a 4-1 game early in the third period.

2. Nashville's James Neal. Wrapped game-winner in past an out-of-position Scott Darling. Also added an assist.

3. Nashville's Pekka Rinne. Finally stepped up and gave Preds the effort they need to beat Hawks, stopping xx of xx shots.

— John Dietz

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