(SportsNetwork.com) - If the Nashville Predators don't solve Scott Darling soon they could be one loss away from getting bounced out of the playoffs.
The Predators hope to rebound against the Chicago Blackhawks and their rising star in net when the clubs meet for Tuesday's Game 4 battle in the Windy City.
Nashville is down 2-1 in this best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series after falling 4-2 in Sunday's clash at the United Center. Darling made 35 saves to record the win for the Blackhawks in his first career playoff start.
Darling picked up a win in relief in the opener of this series, stopping all 42 shots after he replaced an ineffective Corey Crawford. Chicago won that game 4-3 in double overtime, storming back from a 3-0 first-period deficit.
Crawford, who backstopped the Blackhawks to the 2013 Stanley Cup title, played all of Game 2 but surrendered six goals on 35 shots in the 6-2 setback. The second consecutive shaky performance from Crawford led head coach Joel Quenneville to opt for Darling in Game 3 and he will go back to the rookie again on Tuesday.
Nashville has beaten the 26-year-old Darling for just two goals on 79 shots in this series, giving the Illinois native a .975 save percentage and .94 goals against average through two games. Crawford, meanwhile, has struggled to a .809 save percentage and 6.75 GAA in this series.
On Sunday, Darling allowed a first-period goal to Mike Ribeiro and also was beaten by Mattias Ekholm just 58 seconds into the middle stanza. However, he didn't allow another Nashville shot get by him and stopped 25-of-26 shots over the final two periods.
"He did everything he could to put himself back in the net," Quenneville said of Darling. "I thought he was rock solid today and did everything he could to get us the win. He was square, he was big and controlled a lot of pucks around the net as well."
Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist to lead the Chicago offense, while Brent Seabrook, Andrew Desjardins and Brandon Saad all scored for the Blackhawks. Saad notched the game-winner just 2:40 after Ekholm had tied the score at 2-2.
"It's something that always happens in a series where the further you go along the more you get to know those guys," said Saad. "Getting to the net is key and making sure you bang in the rebounds."
Marian Hossa also posted two assists for the Blackhawks, who hope to grab a 3-1 lead tonight to give them a chance at finishing off Nashville when the clubs meet on Thursday for Game 5 in the Music City.
Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne couldn't match Darling on Sunday, as he allowed all four goals on 30 shots. Craig Smith posted two assists in the loss.
"It's a team that throws you a few waves and if you shut down those waves you stand a chance," said Ribeiro. "Unfortunately we weren't able to do much there later in the game."
Nashville will play a second straight game without captain Shea Weber, who left Game 2 with a lower-body injury sustained midway through the second period. The star defenseman was hurt after absorbing a check from Saad and did not make the trip to Chicago.
Predators forward Mike Fisher has sat out the last two games with a lower-body injury suffered in Game 1. He is questionable for Tuesday.
The Blackhawks went 3-1-0 versus the Predators this season and won both meetings at the United Center.
Chicago and Nashville have met once previously in the postseason, a 2010 conference quarterfinal series that Chicago won in six games.