Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Duncan Keith's left-point blast sailed through a screen at the 7:49 mark of the second overtime, and the Chicago Blackhawks rallied from three goals down to claim a 4-3 decision over Nashville in Game 1 of this back-and-forth Western Conference quarterfinal.
Keith's tally was Chicago's 42nd shot of the contest and 15th beyond regulation, and wouldn't have occurred if not for the heroics of Scott Darling.
Inserted after starter Corey Crawford allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period, Darling withstood a 42-shot barrage and failed to crack during his NHL playoff debut, making 17 saves in the first extra session and following up with six more stops until Keith ended the contest.
Darling became the first rookie Blackhawks netminder to win his playoff bow since Ed Belfour against Minnesota on Apr. 6, 1990, a 5-3 victory.
"This is just another thing that I never would have told you would have happened. But it did," said Darling, who spent last year in the ECHL and began this season with Rockford of the AHL.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews each recorded a goal in the second period for the Blackhawks, with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane contributing two assists.
Colin Wilson scored twice and Viktor Stalberg once in a successful first period for the Predators, who embraced an up-tempo offense under head coach Peter Laviolette in stark contrast to former bench boss Barry Trotz.
"I thought our guys played hard tonight. There's a stretch in the second period there where we lost our way," Laviolette said. "I think we did a good job of getting back on the train that we needed to be on in order to be successful."
Pekka Rinne yielded three scores on 11 shots in the second period to let Chicago back in the contest, but finished with 38 saves in defeat.
Wilson whipped the home crowd into a frenzy when he raced past two Chicago defenders and scored from the left wing just after the six-minute mark of the first, and the Preds were up by a 2-0 count with 2:40 to play in the period as Stalberg stole a Crawford clear and scored on a wraparound at the right post.
Wilson added a second marker with 26.8 seconds left, deflecting in a Seth Jones point drive while screening Crawford on the advantage.
"It was probably the worst as it could get, down 3-0. We knew that we had nowhere to go but up," Keith admitted.
Darling was in net to begin the second period, and Hjalmarsson opened the Blackhawks' ledger at 1:43, then Sharp knocked home a Kane rebound during a 5- on-3 power play at 8:32.
Chicago eventually drew even with 6:10 left before the second intermission as Toews' attempted cross-crease pass ended up slipping through Rinne's pads at the right post.
Darling remained unflappable during a series of stops with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, including one on Wilson at the right post followed by doing the splits at the left post to deny Mike Ribeiro.
Rinne was crossed up by a deflected Kris Versteeg offering from a 2-on-1 break 5 1/2 minutes into OT, but managed to swat the puck away.
Darling countered with saves on James Neal, Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok one shift later to keep the game going.
"They really seemed to hit another gear," Laviolette admitted of his team's refusal to collapse completely after wasting a three-goal advantage.
Blackhawks center Brad Richards was sent off for a high stick against Ryan Ellis with 7:18 left in the extra session, but the Preds failed to dent Darling despite several quality chances.
"That was one of the greatest relief performances you're going to see," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville marveled. "I commend him on everything that he achieved. It was a great opportunity and he seized the moment."
Jones then sat for tripping with 2:25 remaining but the Blackhawks failed to generate a shot.
The Blackhawks won a playoff contest after facing a three-goal deficit for the first time since Apr. 8, 1991, a 6-5 decision over the North Stars in Game 3 of the Norris Division semifinals ... Chicago also won its last multiple- overtime outing, a 5-4 victory at United Center against Los Angeles in Game 5 of last year's Western Conference final last May 28 ... Nashville had won its previous foray into multiple OTs, a 2-1 decision over Vancouver on Apr. 30, 2011 in Game 2 of that Western semifinal ... Kane returned to action for first time since Feb. 24 due to a broken collarbone ... Predators forward Mike Fisher departed the contest in the second period due to a lower-body injury and did not return.