Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville started Darling in Game 3 over Corey Crawford, and Darling responded by stopping 35 of the 37 shots he faced in Chicago's 4–2 win. Chicago leads the series 2–1.
"It's tough to make a change when you like everything about the game," Quenneville said, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. "He played so well. Very deserving. I think it was an easy choice."
Darling, a 26-year-old rookie, made his playoff debut in Game 1 of the series, a Blackhawks 4–3 overtime win. In Game 2 on Friday, the Predators won 6–2 after Crawford allowed three goals over a 2:19 span in the third period. He faced 35 shots over the course of the game, including 12 in the third period.
Crawford, a seven-year veteran who posted a 2.27 goals against average and .924 save percentage during the regular season, was the first person to greet Darling after the Game 3 win.
"He's been playing awesome," Crawford said. "He's been seeing the puck really well. He's given our guys confidence too. He's done everything well, just tell him to roll with it, keep going. He's been playing awesome, so you've just got to keep going."
"Scott's an awesome guy. He's gone through a lot to get here and he's been playing awesome. How can you not feel good for him?"
Darling overcame problems with alcohol earlier in his career and spent last season in the AHL after time in the ECHL and Southern Professional Hockey League.
Chicago will host Game 4 at the United Center on Tuesday.
- Mike Fiammetta