Chicago Blackhawks

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PHT Morning Skate: Darling delivers a belt-worthy performance

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

After a 42-save performance in relief of Corey Crawford in Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators, goaltender Scott Darling received the team’s player of the game belt from captain Jonathan Toews.

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The Hockey News looks at who on each of the 16-playoff teams deserves the Stanley Cup first after commissioner Gary Bettman hands it to their respective captain. (THN)

During Wednesday night’s Binghamton Senators’ 6-5 overtime victory against the Utica Comets, Jacob Markstrom and Peter Mannino squared off in a good old goalie fight. The two combined for 36 minutes in penalties.

Patrick Kane delivers pizzas to a local Chicago fire hall as part of the Blackhawks’ “What’s your goal” contest.

After ‘one of the greatest relief performances you’re going to see,’ Quenneville mum on Game 2 starter

Scott Darling, Corey Crawford, Teuvo Teravainen
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The last thing anybody expected out of Chicago this spring was a goaltending controversy but, after the Blackhawks’ 4-3 double-OT win over the Preds on Wednesday night, there might be one.

After Scott Darling’s 42-save relief of Corey Crawford — who was hooked after allowing three goals on 12 shots — Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville played it coy about who would start in Game 2 against Nashville.

It stands to reason that, after starting 57 games in the regular season, Crawford will be right back in on Friday in Nashville — but if that’s the case, then why the hesitation from Q? He could’ve snuffed out any potential controversy by right away confirming that Crawford’s the guy, yet chose not to. Curious decision.

Perhaps there’s more to this than just Darling’s stellar effort tonight. He was very good in a small sample size during the regular season, going 9-4-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .936 save percentage — strong enough to take the backup gig away from Antti Raanta.

“Rock solid every time he’s been in the net for us, from preseason scrimmages to exhibition games to last game (and) he did well in Rockford,” Quenneville said of Darling earlier this year, per the Tribune. “He’s played very well.”

Now, with all that said, let’s remember — Crawford’s played every playoff game for Chicago since 2011 and backstopped the ‘Hawks to a Cup in ’13, so it’ll take an awful lot to bounce him from the No. 1 gig.

But for tonight, at least, the potential is out there.

That’s Darling: Blackhawks win OT thriller against Preds

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith
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The Chicago Blackhawks edged the Nashville Predators 4-3 in double overtime in a game that had just about everything.

Most obviously, it had a huge comeback, as the Blackhawks shrugged off a 3-0 deficit after the first period to win a dramatic contest.

It also had some controversy, as Duncan Keith may have gotten away with a penalty in the first OT. He then proved to be the hero as he scored the game-winner.

Some will say this was a collapse, and to some extent, it was. Still, it’s not as if the Predators went into full turtle mode in this game. Scott Darling tormented Nashville from the moment he took over for Corey Crawford, making all 42 shots in more than three periods of dazzling work.

The Predators fired a franchise playoff-record 54 shots on goal, but only scored against Crawford. Some may be sour about this Keith non-penalty, but the bottom line is that Nashville is down 1-0.

Patrick Kane made a difference, grabbing two assists, including this impressive helper:

Losing a lengthy, fast-paced game obviously has to sting Nashville, especially since they dropped this one at home. Still, if Game 1 is any indication, this could be a first-round series for the ages.

Here’s one fearless prediction: the Predators will face Scott Darling from the first puck drop of Game 1. That’s not official, however:

In fact, maybe it should be a fearful prediction:

Either way, Darling made an impression on Wednesday.

Video: Controversial calls (and non-calls) dominate first OT of Blackhawks-Preds

keithburns
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Ah, the old debate between calling penalties in the big stages versus “letting them play.”

It’s possible that no one was happy during the first overtime of Wednesday’s thrilling Game 1 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, as two officiating calls went back-to-back to furrow many brows.

Some might argue that the Blackhawks were “owed a call” after Brad Richards was whistled for high-sticking. Maybe officials swallowed their whistles when Duncan Keith broke up a breakaway attempt through what may not have been legal techniques.

That was controversial enough, but the crowd really turned on the officials when Seth Jones received a two-minute minor for what seemed like a trivial tripping infraction … depending upon who you ask.

Obviously, no one scored on the two power plays in the overtime period, which probably left the officials breathing a sigh of relief (however they feel about those calls).

Video: Scott Darling’s dazzling toe save

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators - Game One

Whether Corey Crawford was pulled for performance or momentum reasons, Scott Darling has been outstanding so far in Game 1 for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Nashville Predators.

He’s made 19 out of 19 saves through regulation, including 15 as Nashville pressed hard in the third period. Darling’s toe stop may have been the most impressive moment:

Overtime is just moments away on NBCSN. You can stream it below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE