When you've coached a team to a pair of Stanley Cups, you know when you're in for a few extra bumps and bruises.
No doubt the players would agree by the time they were done. Who looked toughest while it was happening? Let's see:
Tough: The fans. Specifically the ones who had a section of the boards fall on them after Duncan Keith was checked into the corner. Free nachos for everyone?
Tougher: Scott Darling. The Hawks goaltender stopped 12 Nashville shots in the first period, several of which came before the Hawks managed any of their own.
Toughest: Colin Wilson. The Predators center scored his fourth goal of the series to put the Predators up 1-0. And he did it with a deflection in front of the net, where the toughest goals are scored. Antoine Vermette scored moments later to tie it for the Hawks, also from near the blue paint.
Score: Blackhawks 1, Predators 1
Tough: Jonathan Toews. The Hawks captain was on the receiving end of a thunderous hit late in the period. Of course, it's not as if he missed a shift or anything.
Tougher: Pekka Rinne. The Preds goalie made seven stops in the period, none more impressive than when he denied Patrick Kane on a shot from close range with a full head of steam.
Toughest: Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Hawks defenseman usually was matched up with the line that included Predators center Mike Ribeiro, a sneaky scorer and general pain in the butt for opponents. Like when he nearly checked Kane into the Nashville bench.
Score: Predators 2, Blackhawks 1. James Neal put Nashville ahead on a halfway accidental tally late in the period. They all count though, unfortunately for the Hawks.
Tough: Nashville's penalty kill. In the first lengthy chance the Hawks had with the man advantage, they managed exactly zero shots. In fact, they barely came close to an attempt.
Tougher: Nasvhille's defense in general. To hold the Hawks to one goal at the United Center, in a game the Predators pretty much HAD to have, is no easy task.
Toughest: Brandon Saad. His wicked wrist shot from the slot sent it to overtime. Honorable mention to Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith with the gorgeous assists.
Score: Blackhawks 2, Predators 2
Toughest: Brent Seabrook. That's why they call him Mr. Overtime.
Score: Blackhawks 3, Predators 2. Hawks take a 3-1 series lead.
Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor. @redeyesportschi
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