The Chicago Blackhawks have faced some unenviable positions en route to winning three Stanley Cup titles in a six-year span (2010-15). None of them matches the current predicament for the top-seeded Blackhawks, who will try to stave off elimination Thursday when they visit the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of the Western Conference first-round series.
Not only is Chicago attempting to avoid a four-game sweep, but it is well aware that only four teams in league history have won a playoff series by overcoming a 3-0 deficit. “This might be the worst spot we’ve been in,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Look at (the) small picture. Brutal loss. We have ourselves to blame for this.” Predators coach Peter Laviolette certainly will not allow his team to become complacement with the commanding lead -- he was coach of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 when they overcame a 3-0 deficit versus Boston before advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals and losing to, coincidentally, Chicago. “Obviously we’re happy with the situation that we’re in, but if there’s one team that’s as resilient as they are, it’s the Blackhawks,” Nashville forward Ryan Johansen said. “Shift after shift, game after game, they come. It’s not over yet.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN360, TVAS 3, CSN Chicago, FSN Tennessee (Nashville)
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS: Chicago has managed two goals in the series, both coming in Game 3, extending a lengthy drought for captain Jonathan Toews, who has not scored in 12 consecutive postseason games dating to the 2015 Cup Final. “That’s something I’m obviously well aware of, and no better moment than a game like tomorrow,” Toews said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m just trying to stay patient and smart and do the right things. Obviously, no more waiting.” Patrick Kane, who scored on the power play in Game 3, raised eyebrows when he told reporters that “All the pressure’s on (Nashville) to win the next game.”
ABOUT THE PREDATORS: Nashville’s Filip Forsberg knows what it’s like to struggle in the postseason, scoring once in his last 13 playoff games a year ago, but he made his first two this season count with a pair of third-period goals to force overtime in Game 3. “He’s a guy who wants to be on the ice when the game is on the line and he wants the puck when the game is on the line,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “You want that kind of guy on the ice when the game is on the line. He is really elevating his game.” Top-line center Ryan Johansen is having a huge series with one goal and four assists.
1. The Blackhawks have lost four in a row only once -- in the final four games of the regular season with nothing on the line.
2. Johansen has one goal and 11 assists in eight matchups against the Blackhawks this season.
3. Chicago rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to force a Game 7 versus Vancouver in 2011 before losing in OT.
PREDICTION: Blackhawks 5, Predators 2