NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Patrick Sharp scored his first two goals of the postseason, and the Chicago Blackhawks finally found their offensive form Thursday night in beating the Nashville Predators 3-0 to tie their opening series at 2-2.
Rookie Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots for his second shutout and Jonathan Toews also scored his first playoff goal and had an assist. Marian Hossa had an assist, just his second in the series.
The Blackhawks made a couple lineup changes, including playing defenseman Brian Campbell for the first time since he broke his collarbone and a rib March 14.
Nashville lost its first Game 4 in three tries on home ice. The Predators gave no offensive support to goalie Pekka Rinne, who had allowed only two even-strength goals the first three games.
Game 5 is Saturday in Chicago.
It was a party-like atmosphere with a band outside the arena before the game and a sellout crowd inside trying to will the Predators to a victory that would have given the franchise its first-ever 3-1 series lead. Nashville outhit and outshot Chicago 33-30 but couldn't get anything past Niemi.
The Predators have yet to score with the man advantage in this series, and a team that ranked 24th in the NHL in the regular season on the power play sorely missed top goal-scorer Patric Hornqvist, who missed his third straight game. They couldn't even convert with a 5-on-3 in the first after Chicago led 1-0 and now are 0 for 17 on the power play.
Chicago spent the off day trying to crank up the NHL's third-highest scoring offense. It worked.
The Blackhawks went up 1-0 as Sharp scored his first goal of the postseason, flipping the puck over a sprawling Rinne with 10:57 gone in the first period.
Nashville got the 5-on-3 when Tomas Kopecky boarded Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein, leaving him laying on the ice for a couple of minutes at 15:05 and then Dave Bolland flipped the puck out of the rink trying to clear it. Not that it mattered. Predators center David Legwand was called for goaltender interference, leaving only 32 seconds on the power play for a 4-on-3.
Then the tempers started flaring.
Rinne went sprawling to defend the post against a puck sliding just to the outside, and Blackhawks right wing Troy Brouwer was in front trying to score off a rebound when Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter started defending his goalie, starting lots of pushing and shoving.
Nashville had a chance to tie it up at 10:54 of the second when Steve Sullivan got the puck on a breakaway only to see Niemi stick out his right leg for the stop.
Chicago made it 2-0 with only its third even-strength goal this series as Hossa passed toward the front of the net from the right circle, and Toews tipped it in at 12:55 for his first goal of the postseason. Sharp made it 3-0 with 16:17 gone as he flipped the puck at the net from the inside edge of the right circle.
The Blackhawks changed up the lineup, sitting Ben Eager and Colin Fraser and playing right wing Adam Burish and rookie forward Bryan Bickell for the first time this series. … Hornqvist took part in the morning skate but was scratched. … Nashville now is 2-3 in Game 4s.
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