Parked outside is a hollowed-out car painted to look like an official vehicle. As they have in prior playoff series, the are allowing fans to take a whack at it with a sledgehammer for a donation to the team’s charitable foundation.
The metaphor might have hit a little too close to home for the Hawks after what the Predators did in the first two games of the series. But the question for the Hawks on Monday was how they would channel their anger from that pair of body blows. Would they make it a series? Or would they crumble under the weight of the suffocating Predators?
The Hawks had the Predators where they wanted them but lost a two-goal lead in the third period and fell 3-2 in overtime.
Their season is now on the brink as the Predators hold a 3-0 series lead with Game 4 on Thursday in Nashville. Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third, and Kevin Fiala — who came close to winning the game twice in overtime — finally scored 16 minutes, 44 seconds into the extra period to complete the improbable comeback.
The Hawks were last down 3-0 in a series against the Canucks in the first round in 2011. They came back to tie the series 3-3 before falling in Game 7.
Several times in the last decade, the Hawks have gotten the key goal when they needed it most, whether it be late in the third period to tie or win or in overtime to prevent a series from getting out of their grasp. As they desperately tried to stay in this series, they didn’t have another answer as Fiala took a feed from and beat in front to give the Predators a win that should have belonged to the Hawks.
After the Hawks carried a 2-0 lead into the third, the Predators came back when Forsberg sent in a puck that ricocheted off the back boards and Crawford couldn’t locate before it went in the net at 4:24.
It was Forsberg and linemates and Viktor Arvidsson who caused more trouble for the Hawks as Forsberg cleaned up a loose puck in front of Crawford at 14:08 to tie the game. The Hawks challenged the goal for goaltender interference on Arvidsson, but referees upheld the call.
The Hawks got their first goal of the series from an unlikely source. Dennis Rasmussen, who was playing in his second playoff game and has just eight career regular-season goals, shoved a puck past 1:05 into the second period to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead. The goal ended a 141-minute, 5-second scoreless drought to start the series.
That came after a first period that looked like a repeat of Game 2. The Predators were able to fluster the Hawks in the first 20 minutes.
Seemingly every time the Hawks tried to get in the zone, the Predators got the puck and sent it right back out. The Hawks had six shots in the first five minutes but just three the rest of the period.
That changed in the second period when Rasmussen finally got Rinne to crack.
The Hawks made it 2-0 later in the period from a more traditional source: Patrick Kane, who scored on a power play at 11:15 thanks to a screen from . On both goals, Rasmussen and Anisimov finally provided the key net-front presence the Hawks were sorely lacking in the first two games.
But the Hawks’ scoring would stop there, and the Predators’ top line, which has given the Hawks fits all series, took over in the third to tie the score and plant the seed of doubt in the Hawks’ mind — before Fiala made that seed bloom.