Road to the Stanley Cup: Blackhawks vs. Predators
It was a long road to the Stanley Cup Final for the Blackhawks, with the playoffs beginning in Nashville in April and ending in Chicago on June 15 with Jonathan Toews hoisting the trophy.
Each playoff series was hard-fought and unique. Here's a reminder of what the Hawks faced during their postseason journey, starting with the first series, which featured slow starts by the Blackhawks and a goalie switch.
Hawks 4, Predators 3 (2 OT)
Game 1: Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators, Western Conference first round, April 15 at Nashville
Recap: The Predators opened with 3 goals in the first period, leading Joel Quenneville to bench Corey Crawford in favor of Scott Darling at the start of the second. Darling recorded 42 saves in the net, and 3 unanswered goals by Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews (with 2 assists from Patrick Kane) put the game into overtime. A goal by Duncan Keith 7:49 into the second OT secured the win and series lead.
John Dietz's stars of the game: Darling, Keith, Kane
Quote: "I was nervous and excited all at the same time. It's a pretty amazing opportunity. I just wanted to do good for the team, I just wanted to do my job." -- Scott Darling
Predators 6, Hawks 2
Game 2: April 17 at Nashville
Recap: Thanks to goals by Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane, the Hawks trailed just 3-2 through the first two periods. However, Corey Crawford gave up 3 goals by the Predators in a time frame of 2:19 in the third period, putting the game out of reach.
Stars of the game: Predators' Craig Smith, Predators' Roman Josi, Patrick Sharp
Quote: "It was one of those nights where pucks were going in on him. We could have pulled him, but that deep in the game, we left him in there." -- Quenneville on Crawford
Hawks 4, Predators 2
Game 3: April 19 at Chicago
Recap: Scott Darling got the start and made 35 saves to help the Hawks go up 2-1 in the series. The team's first goal came from Andrew Desjardins, who was on the ice for the first time that series. Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Brandon Saad also scored, and Marian Hossa had 2 assists and 6 shots.
Stars of the game: Hossa, Toews, Darling
Quote: "The first two games, we got down by a couple goals and that was something we needed to address. After they got down a game, we knew they'd come out hard in Game 2 and we didn't play the way we wanted to play. We knew we needed to be harder right off the start in this game." -- Brandon Saad
Hawks 3, Predators 2 (3 OT)
Game 4: April 21 at Chicago
Recap: In total, the game took 4 hours and 31 minutes, lasting until Brent Seabrook found the back of the net a minute into the third overtime with the help of a Patrick Kane assist and a Bryan Bickell screen. Scott Darling made 52 saves. Hawks' regulation goals were scored by Antoine Vermette and Brandon Saad.
Stars of the Game: Darling, Predators' James Neal, Seabrook
Quote: "Overtime's crazy. Every shot's do or die. The guys played great, kept all the chances to the outside in overtime." -- Scott Darling
Predators 5, Hawks 2
Game 5: April 23 at Nashville
Recap: The Predators' Filip Forsberg recorded a hat trick as Nashville narrowed the Hawks' series lead to 3-2. The two teams were close early on, as Brad Richards scored for the Hawks in the first but Forsberg responded with a goal of his own 75 seconds later. Entering the third period tied 1-1, Darling gave up three quick goals to Nashville and the Blackhawks never recovered.
Stars of the game: Preds' Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Pekka Rinne
Quote: "We just got sloppy. We'll get back to being stingier and paying attention to details. Just got a little out of control." -- Brad Richards
Hawks 4, Predators 3
Game 6: April 25 at Chicago
Recap: Blackhawks rallied from a two-goal deficit to clinch the series. The offenses of both teams went wild in the first, and a Patrick Kane goal closed out the period with the score tied 3-3. Corey Crawford replaced Darling after the rookie allowed 3 goals on 12 shots. Crawford didn't allow a goal for the rest of the game, and a goal by Duncan Keith in the game's final four minutes put the Hawks ahead for good.
Stars of the game: Keith, Crawford, Kane
Quote: "Five-on-five, neutral zone, our end, we have to be better in all aspects. We get down 3-0 and 3-1 and win games twice in this series. Can't expect to do that. Hopefully, we'll learn our lesson. Hopefully, we'll get some excitement off this win and know we have to be better going forward." -- Joel Quenneville