Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Scott Darling made 35 saves to lead the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Darling made his first career playoff start in place of Corey Crawford, who had been pulled in the series opener after allowing three goals in the opening frame, then gave up six goals in Game 2 to prompt head coach Joel Quenneville to give his 26-year-old rookie the start. Darling got the win in Game 1 in relief of Crawford.
Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, while Brent Seabrook, Andrew Desjardins and Brandon Saad all scored for the Blackhawks, who hold a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.
"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."
Mattias Ekholm and Mike Ribeiro each posted a goal for the Predators, who had goaltender Pekka Rinne allow all four goals on 30 shots.
"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."
Game 4 of this series will take place Tuesday in Chicago.
The Blackhawks scored with 5:12 to play in the first. Desjardins had his shot from the right wing blocked by a defender, but he picked it back up and snapped his second chance between the pads of Rinne.
Nashville, though, answered just 31 seconds later when Craig Smith sent a short pass from the left wing to the slot where Ribeiro snuck a one-timer under the left arm of Darling.
Chicago took the lead again just 36 seconds into the second when Marian Hossa brought the puck in down the slot and left a drop pass for Toews, who shot the puck into the left side of the net, but Nashville had an answer just 22 seconds later when Ekholm's slapper from the left point went through a screen.
Less than three minutes later, the Blackhawks took the lead for good when Saad caused a turnover at the right point, skated down the other wing, and wristed a shot in from the left side for a 3-2 lead.
With 7:19 left in the middle frame, Chicago padded its lead as Toews skated around the net and emerged at the right side, centering the puck for a one- timer from Seabrook that made it between the pads of Rinne for a 4-2 advantage.
Chicago did a good job of keeping Nashville in check in the third period, limiting them to just nine shots, all of which Darling easily turned aside to give his team the win.
Both teams had two chances on the power play and neither was able to score ... Hossa posted two assists for the Blackhawks, while Craig Smith had two helpers for Nashville ... This is just the second postseason matchup between these clubs, with Chicago taking a 2010 quarterfinal series in six games.