It took a while, but Antoine Vermette has finally scored for Chicago.
After 19 regular-season games and a pair of healthy scratches, Vermette found the back of the net in his second playoff game with the ‘Hawks, scoring at the 13:05 mark of the first period of Game 4, knotting the score at 1-1 on assists from Michal Rozsival and Patrick Sharp:
Needless to say, it’s been a trying stint in Chicago. Vermette had just three assists prior to the goal and struggled to find chemistry with a variety of linemates, which eventually banished him to the press box.
As for tonight’s game, the Preds opened the scoring when Colin Wilson scored his fourth of the series at 11:38 of the first.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Lightning at Red Wings, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to continue their strong play in the series as it shifts to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. The Bolts have out-shot the Wings by a combined 76-38 margin through two games, but have just the one win after Detroit was able to squeeze out a 3-2 victory in Game 1. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 3.
Capitals at Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET on USA
The Washington Capitals are hoping captain Alex Ovechkin can break out of his slump as they look to even the series at two. Ovechkin was held off the score sheet for the second time in three games in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders. Ovechkin has just one goal on a team-high 15 shots in the series after scoring a league-high 53 goals during the regular season. Kenny Albert and Pierre McGuire will call Game 4.
Predators at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Scott Darling will make his second career playoff start tonight as the Blackhawks look to take a 3-1 stranglehold on their series with the Predators. Darling made 42 saves in relief of Corey Crawford in Game 1’s double overtime victory. He then stopped 35 shots in Sunday’s 4-2 win. Captain Jonathan Toews has five points in the two Chicago wins. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will have the call of Game 4.
Canucks at Flames, 10:00 p.m. ET on USA
The Calgary Flames are 5-0-2 on home ice since March 19 and they’ll look to ride that success at the Saddledome tonight as they attempt to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven matchup with the Vancouver Canucks. Calgary has now taken four of the last five meetings with Vancouver dating back to the regular season while limiting the Canucks to just nine goals. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have combined for just one goal and an assist in those games. Chris Cuthbert and Bret Hedican have the call of Game 4 tonight.
Nashville earned a commanding 6-2 victory over Chicago on Friday to even the first round series at 1-1, but that was back when they were playing at the Bridgestone Arena. Throughout the season, the Predators have done significantly worse on the road and that trend continued with their 4-2 loss to Chicago this afternoon.
Which isn’t to suggest that the change in venue was the only factor in this game. Losing top-tier defenseman Shea Weber clearly hurt Nashville tonight. The fact that he’ll also be absent for Game 4 on Tuesday should be an area of substantial concern for the Predators. Part of the reason for that is goaltender Pekka Rinne’s shaky play as of late.
Early this season Rinne looked like a Vezina Trophy candidate, but as the campaign went on, Rinne declined substantially. He had a 2.48 GAA and .911 save percentage in 27 contests after the All-Star break and those struggles have carried into the playoffs. The Predators did make defensive mistakes which contributed to this loss, but it’s also true that Rinne wasn’t able to bail his defense out often enough tonight.
At the other end of the ice, Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling did a great job in his first start of the playoffs. Given Corey Crawford’s 6.75 GAA and .809 save percentage in two games against Nashville, it would be interesting if coach Joel Quenneville decided to go back to his veteran netminder for Game 4.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews also had a big game with a goal and an assist while Brandon Saad’s marker proved to be the winner.
The Blackhawks have a 2-1 series lead with with two of the last four contests scheduled to be played in Chicago.