Predators-Blackhawks Preview

Filip Forsberg's hat trick helped the Nashville Predators avoid elimination without their top defenseman, and they'll have to do so two more times after Shea Weber was ruled out for the rest of their first-round series with the Chicago Blackhawks.

They'll also have to continue finding ways to beat Scott Darling, who will make his fourth straight start in net as the Blackhawks look to close out the Predators in Game 6 on Saturday night in Chicago.

Weber hasn't played since suffering a lower-body injury during Nashville's 6-2 victory in Game 2. The club updated Weber's status Friday but didn't specify his injury, only refuting the possibility that the team captain had torn his ACL.

The Predators lost 4-2 in Game 3 and dropped a triple-overtime thriller 4-3 in Game 4, putting them down 3-1 in the series. But Forsberg, snubbed earlier in the day when the Calder Trophy finalists were announced, had a big night in Nashville's 5-2 win Thursday with his first hat trick in 105 NHL games.

"We're disappointed for Filip," coach Peter Laviolette said after Forsberg tied for the NHL lead among rookies with 26 goals and finished third with 63 points. "I think he has been our guy all year. We have really counted on him to produce offense (after) we put ourselves in a situation where our back is against the wall."

Forsberg also had a goal and an assist in Game 2 but has been held off the scoresheet in each of Nashville's three losses.

The Predators finally were able to solve Darling, who had stopped 127 of 131 shots heading into Game 5 after relieving Corey Crawford in the first period of Game 1.

The game was tied 1-1 after two periods before James Neal, Colin Wilson and Forsberg each scored within the first 3:14 of the third to help Nashville get back into the series.

"We are still a team that needs to realize where we are at right now," Laviolette said. "If we win (Saturday), we can come back and play Game 7. If we don't, then we start our summer. I don't think our guys are ready to go home."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville noted that Darling wasn't at fault for every goal. He praised Darling while confirming the rookie would start this contest.

"You look at the four games he's been in and he's been solid. (We've) been very happy with the way he's played," Quenneville said Friday. "He's done everything right."

Quenneville didn't commit to a goaltender for a potential Game 7, saying he's only concerned about winning Saturday. The Blackhawks have won 21 of 25 at home in the postseason since 2013.

"(Quenneville) kind of runs with the hot goalie," forward Bryan Bickell said. "It shows our depth in that position. Whoever's in the net, we're confident and we don't change our game."

Although Chicago leads the series, it has scored 15 goals to the Predators' 18 and is just 2 for 17 on the power play. Both of those goals came in a 4-3 double-overtime victory in Game 1.

"With the amount of periods we've already played in this series, I think closing it out on Saturday would be huge for us," forward Kris Versteeg said.

Pekka Rinne has had his struggles in goal for the Predators, but he turned away 28 shots Thursday. He's been backed by the emergence of Wilson, who has five goals in the series after going scoreless in his final 15 of the regular season.

"Certainly I think he found another gear, another speed, and he has picked up the pace in the playoffs," Laviolette said. "He's playing at that speed he needs in order to be successful."

Patrick Kane, who missed the final 21 games of the regular season with a fractured clavicle before returning for Game 1, had a highlight-reel assist on Versteeg's goal late in the third period. Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews lead Chicago with five points apiece in the series.

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