Still, Chicago managed to silence some of its critics on Thursday by tying the series at two games, thanks to a 3-0 shutout win in Nashville that saw Antti Niemi stop all 33 shots he faced for his second shutout of the playoffs, as the 'Hawks turned the tables somewhat on Nashville in what has been a very defensive, low-scoring series.
Patrick Sharp scored a pair of goals in the win to provide the offense, while Jonathan Toews tallied his first goal of the postseason
Entering Game 4, Chicago had been limited to just four goals in the first three games, and just 19 in nine games against the Predators all season; so Thursday's three-goal outburst had to seem like an offensive explosion of sorts.
One of the biggest moments in the game came late in the first period with Nashville trailing, 1-0. Chicago's Dave Bolland was sent off for delay of game just 14 seconds after Tomas Kopecky took a two-minute minor for boarding, giving the Predators an extended 5-on-3. It was a golden opportunity for Nashville to not only tie the game, or perhaps even take the lead with a pair of quick goals, but also score its first power play goal of the series.
Still, it's not like Nashville was without its chances. Niemi had to make some difficult saves throughout the night, including this stop midway through the second period on Joel Ward after he picked off an outlet pass.
Just three minutes later he came up big again when he turned aside Steve Sullivan on a breakaway. For the series he's stopped 109 of the 115 shots he's faced.
Goaltending was pretty much the only question mark the Blackhawks had coming into the playoffs, and so far, minus one unfortunate bounce early in the series, Niemi has been the answer they were looking for.