Rozner: No fairy tale finish for Darling, Blackhawks

 
 
Updated 4/24/2015 1:05 AM

The Blackhawks didn't play a bad game for two periods Thursday night.

They just didn't play well enough for three periods to earn a vacation.

 

It was win or go home for Nashville, which kept its season alive with a 5-2 victory in Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena.

That means a Game 6 in Chicago on Saturday night, and the Hawks' chance to get some rest while the Blues and Wild fight on will be delayed at least 48 hours.

"If you told us before the series we'd be up 3-2 heading back to our building for Game 6, we'd be excited about that," said Patrick Kane. "We feel we're in a good situation. We'll learn from this one, move on, try to get as much rest as possible and be ready for Saturday."

The amazing Scott Darling story, which amounted to only 5 goals allowed in 13 periods, hit a speed bump when the Preds busted a 1-1 tie only 47 seconds into the third with 3 goals in 2:27, including 2 in 12 seconds.

A couple of them were not great goals, but head coach Joel Quenneville left little doubt that he will stick with Darling.

"No, not blaming the goalie. Not the goalie at all," Quenneville said. "We'll talk about it, but he did everything right. He was fine."

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The Hawks played a solid two periods but weren't prepared for the Preds' desperation to begin the third, and less than a minute in Nashville took its first lead of the night on a wraparound by James Neal off the skate of Duncan Keith.

A bad penalty by Michal Rozsival off the play led to a power-play goal at 3:02 by Colin Wilson -- his fifth score in five games -- and 12 seconds later Filip Forsberg got his second of the game and third of the series.

After Kris Versteeg scored his first goal of the series on a brilliant setup from Kane, Forsberg added an empty-netter for the hat trick.

"Not the start to the third that we wanted," Kane said. "All those 5-on-5 goals we pretty much gave them.

"We have to crackdown defensively. We gotta be responsible in those situations and can't give up anything. Whether it's lazy plays or not getting back or missing plays in coverage, we have to play better defense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"All of us could have been better, and we will be next game."

The Hawks and Preds have played the equivalent of more than six games already and now the Hawks will have to play at least one more in this series at a time when the top-seeded Ducks are already done and home getting some extra rest.

It's huge because the Hawks know what happens when they play extra games in a series, and how that adds up later in the postseason.

In 2014, the Hawks lost a pair of winnable games in St. Louis in the first round, giving up late leads and losing in overtime twice, before coming back to take the next four against the Blues.

But those physical games definitely took a toll and would cost the Hawks later in the playoffs.

Against Minnesota in the second round, the Hawks won the first two at home in relatively easy fashion, but then failed to show for the next two on the road and needed six games to dispatch the Wild.

That was a factor as they fell behind Los Angeles 3-1 in the conference finals, before rallying to tie and then losing at home on an overtime bounce in Game 7.

The Hawks said they had learned their lesson, that all the extra ice time is debilitating, and all those extra hits and extra periods make a difference as the playoffs march on.

When you have a chance to put teams away you have to do it.

Or risk the consequences.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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