Filip Forsberg Scored Twice in the Third, Kevin Fiala Wins it in OT to Give Nashville Their First 3-0 Series Lead in Franchise History
by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator
Kevin Fiala has put the Chicago Blackhawks on the brink.
Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period and Fiala ended it in overtime as the Nashville Predators came back to defeat the Blackhawks by a 3-2 final in Game Three on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Nashville trailed 2-0 headed into the third period, but two goals from Forsberg changed everything before Fiala ended it shortly after midnight on Tuesday morning.
It now gives Nashville a chance to sweep the Blackhawks on Thursday night, a task that won’t be easy, but is certainly doable.
“It’s a big win for us, but we have to come back with the same mindset,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “They played a very good game, and we clawed and fought our way back in overtime.”
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne kept his shutout streak alive through the first 20 minutes, including a desperation save after a dump-in took a carom off a stanchion and turned right for the net. Rinne, who had already vacated the goal in an attempt to play the puck, dove back with no time to spare and got his stick on the puck just enough to change the trajectory, one of the more remarkable saves in recent memory.
The Blackhawks finally solved Rinne in the second period, however, as Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane gave Chicago a 2-0 lead after two, ending Rinne’s shutout streak at 141:05, the longest in postseason franchise history. But the Predators weren’t about to give up.
“We found ourselves down a lot this year going into third periods, and for whatever reason, we seem to play our best when we’re down,” Ellis said. “You never want to be down, but when we are down we’re pretty comfortable playing from behind.”
Unlike the previous two contests, it was Nashville looking for their first goal of the game in the third, and Forsberg tallied twice, beating Corey Crawford to even the score at 2-2 and force overtime. Once in the extra session, the Predators kept buzzing, and Fiala ended it at 16:44 of OT to give his club a 3-0 series lead.
“We were focusing on just getting one and getting on the scoreboard,” Rinne said. “A lot of times that helps and opens the game up… I think that’s what happened when we scored the first one and we stuck with it.
“When it’s a sudden death OT, it’s a great feeling [to get a win]. There’s a lot of adrenaline and it’s a big relief.”
The win in front of the home crowd made it that much sweeter, and Head Coach Peter Laviolette summed up the atmosphere within Bridgestone Arena to perfection.
“It was a 10,” Laviolette said. “I’m not sure there’s another place like it.”
The third time was the charm.
After Kevin Fiala was unable to convert on two glorious chances on Corey Crawford, he didn’t miss again. After another shift in the Chicago zone, James Neal found the fleet-footed winger, and Fiala tucked a backhander past the outstretched glove of Corey Crawford to send the Nashville faithful into a frenzy shortly after the clock had struck midnight.
And for Fiala, who was one of Nashville’s best players all night long, it was a perfect exclamation point to end the evening.
“I think it’s the team, just the character,” Fiala said of the night. “Everybody, when we went in [the locker room] after the third period, we could feel it, we were going to do it. Everybody believed in it, just working hard. From the first to the last guy, we knew we were going to do it.”
Fiala’s head coach continues to gain confidence to utilize him in different situations, and the opportunities throughout the night told the story in Game Three.
“That’s good for him,” Laviolette said of Fiala. “He’s a young kid. He’s in a big situation like that, and I thought he handled it well tonight. You talk about experiences you grow and learn from, whether they’re coming back in the third period or not – a young player like Kevin – I thought that he played a really good game tonight… Some of his best chances were in this game in overtime. The last goal was a really patient goal. To wait it out like that – it was nice to see.”
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The Predators have now won three consecutive postseason games at Bridgestone Arena in overtime, dating back to last season in the Second Round against San Jose.
Tonight marked Filip Forsberg’s second career multi-goal postseason performance.
Nashville’s lineup remained unchanged from the previous two games of the series.
Game Four between the Predators and Blackhawks comes on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, a 7 p.m. CT start.