After taking a major boarding penalty that extended into overtime, Marian Hossa came out of the box and beat Pekka Rinne 4:07 into overtime on Saturday afternoon as the Chicago Blackhawks pulled within a game of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a wild 5-4 win against the Nashville Predators in front of 22,115 at the United Center.
Chicago was nearly on the brink of elimination after running away with the Central Division before Patrick Kane scored shorthanded with just 13.6 seconds left in regulation to erase a 4-3 deficit. The Blackhawks have their first crack at eliminating the Preds on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena.
"What a relief," said Hossa, who hit Preds defenseman Dan Hamhuis from behind with 1:03 left in the third period. "It was one of the longest I've ever sat in the penalty box, especially in a big game like this. Luckily the rebound came to me, so I just put it in. The guys on the PK deserve lots of credit. I was jumping in the box like a little kid when I saw there were only a few seconds left (in the penalty). I couldn't think of a better ending than this."
Nashville, the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, is the only team this postseason that hasn't scored on the power play. Despite the golden opportunity Hossa handed them near the end of the third period on Saturday, the Preds are now 0-for-22 with the man advantage.
"We tried a few different things, tried to create a little bit more offense," Preds coach Barry Trotz said. "When you start to over-think it, everybody stands (around). If you look at power plays that are successful in the playoffs, they're pretty simplified. Everybody's willing to block shots, everybody's willing to do whatever it takes. You're going to have to outwork the penalty killers and you have to make real quick decisions and be assertive and confident that you're doing the right thing. Everybody's a little bit slow on that."
Martin Erat scored twice in the third period for Nashville, which rallied from a 3-1 deficit and had five shots on goal midway through regulation.
"We wish we could have those 13 seconds back," Preds forward Steve Sullivan said. "But we were also outplayed for the first two periods and were down two goals and found a way to come back. There's a lot of resiliency in this hockey club and a lot of fight left. We've got to find a way to keep going."
Nashville drew first blood just 6:23 into the game on David Legwand's second goal of the series. With the teams at even strength, Legwand took a pass from Sullivan and fired a wrister from the right circle that beat a screened Antti Niemi (17 saves) to the far side.
Andrew Ladd tied the game at 9:57 of the first, when he collected Brent Seabrook's rebound and backhanded it past Rinne to make it 1-1. It was Ladd's first goal of the playoffs.
Niklas Hjalmarsson gave Chicago its first lead of the day with 5:07 remaining in the opening period, when he took a drop pass from Kane and fired a slap shot from the point that beat Rinne, who was screened by Bryan Bickell.
The Blackhawks took the 2-1 lead into the first intermission. They outshot the Preds 10-4 in the opening 20 minutes.
Tomas Kopecky doubled Chicago's lead with 3:36 left in the second. Kopecky, who was serving a too many men penalty, came out of the penalty box and was sent in on a breakaway by Hossa. Kopecky promptly backhanded a shot past Rinne for his second goal of the series to make it 3-1.
"The first two periods, we were lucky to be in the game," Trotz said. "The Blackhawks were the better team for two periods. They elevated their game and we didn't elevate our game."
But Nashville cut the deficit in half when Joel Ward scored shorthanded at 17:31. After Jerred Smithson was whistled for hooking, Ward came down on a 2-on-1 with Legwand and one-timed the latter's feed past Niemi. The Preds were outshot 14-4 in the second.
Nashville scored on its first shot of the third period, which came at 1:34, when Erat quickly wristed J.P. Dumont's feed past Niemi to make it 3-3. It was Erat's third goal of the series.
Erat then put the Preds ahead at 11:39 -- on the team's 13th shot of the day -- when he took a nice cross-ice feed from Denis Grebeshkov and fired a low wrist shot from the slot past Niemi.
"When you've got the momentum, keep your finger on it," said Blackhawks center John Madden, who played a huge role on special teams, especially in overtime. "We're sitting here now smiling about it, but we nearly let that one slip. I think that's the biggest thing we've got to take from this. We have to be ready on Monday."
Nashville seemed destined to win the game in regulation after Hossa was given a five-minute boarding major for his hit on Hamhuis with 1:03 remaining. But Kane managed to swipe Patrick Sharp's rebound past Rinne (27 saves) to send the game to overtime.
"Nothing tops it," Kane said when asked if that was the biggest goal of his young career. "Sharpie said he couldn't catch me after I scored because I was flying. That's why you play the game. From death to the door opening, it's a really good feeling. NBC in Chicago, there's no better place you want to be. That's why hockey's such a great game. You never know what can happen."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Shift of the Day: Instead of calling it a day, the group of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews found a way to score a shorthanded goal in the final moments of the third period to erase a 4-3 deficit as Kane converted on Sharp's rebound for his third goal of the playoffs.
Wrist shot -