Fiala, Preds Top Blackhawks In OT For 3-0 Series Lead

Posted at 5:23 AM, Apr 18, 2017

Turned away twice already on golden chances in overtime, Kevin Fiala would not be denied a third time. The young forward broke through for the biggest goal of his career, lifting the Predators to a 3-2 overtime win over the Blackhawks in game three of their opening round series.

The 20-year-old Swiss took a feed from James Neal and patiently skated around Corey Crawford, depositing the puck into the back of the net 16:44 into overtime.

"I'm just happy I scored," a jubilant Fiala said moments after the game. "I'm just happy we won. I had some good chances, everybody had chances. We believed we could do it and we did it.

It was a huge moment for Fiala, who failed to convert on a pair of scoring chances with the Preds buzzing in overtime. First, he was denied from point blank range by a Crawford kick save. Then minutes later, he got an open shot from the slot, but Crawford got just enough of it to deflect the puck into the netting.

Given a third chance, Fiala made it count, sending Bridgestone Arena into a delirious celebration as the Preds grabbed their first ever 3-oh series lead.

"Good for him," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's a young kid in a big position. He had numerous chances and just stuck with it. He played a good game."

The goal, which came at 12:08 a.m. Tuesday, capped a furious comeback by Nashville. Chicago led 2-0 after two periods, but the Preds rallied back in the third, seemingly willed on by another sellout crowd and the play of Filip Forsberg.

The rally started innocently enough with a Viktor Arvidsson shot that went off of Crawford's shoulder, caroming off the glass and right to the feet of Forsberg, who pounded it in.

Then with just under 6:00 left, Forsberg knocked a puck out of the air with his stick, collected it and fired it past Crawford, tying the game at two and forcing OT.

"It's a huge win for sure," Forsberg said. "It's a good feeling right now. We're going to let it sit for right now and then we'll go at it (Thursday) again."

Only a handful of the sellout crowd of 17,113 left before an overtime period that crossed into early Tuesday morning. As the night grew longer, the Preds relied upon their gold clad fans for energy.

As has become customary in Smashville, fans urged their team on with standing ovations throughout the duration of each timeout in the third period and OT.

"It was a 10," Laviolette said. "It was a 10. I'm not sure there's another place like it."

The win gives the Predators a 3-0 series edge for the first time in series history, and it comes against the rival Blackhawks, a team favored to win the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in eight years.

It's not over yet, but the Preds are knocking at the door of the biggest series win in franchise history.

"It's a big win for us," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "They played a good game. We had to claw and fight our way back, and got it done in overtime."

Shortly after the clock struck midnight, the Metallica lyrics, "exit light, enter night" from the song Enter Sandman blared over the Bridgestone Arena speakers. A dark reality settled in on Chicago when Fiala scored moments later.

Only four teams in the history of the NHL have gone on to win a series after trailing three games to none.

Asked if he thought his veteran team was capable of digging it's way out of the hole, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville's answer conveyed the simple reality.

"We're gonna have to," he said.

It'll be a tall task to win four in a row, something the Predators will have a chance to do Thursday night.

As fans filed onto lower Broadway early Tuesday morning, you could hear chants of, "Sweep! Sweep!"

A crazy idea to just about everyone heading into the series that's now just one step away for the Preds after one of the most memorable wins in franchise history. Forsberg scored twice in the third period to force overtime.

Pekka Rinne made 34 saves, even with his franchise playoff scoreless streak ending early in the second period at 141 minutes, 5 seconds. 

Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.

Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane each scored the first goals this series for the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.

But the Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cup titles in the past seven years, now trail 0-3 for the first time since the 2011 quarterfinals. They lost that series in seven games to Vancouver.