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Blackhawks win in OT, even series Canucks once led by 3-0 margin

Ben Smith scored on a rebound at 15:30 of overtime and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3, on Sunday night to force a seventh game in the opening-round series.

The Canucks, with the NHL's best record during the regular season, have lost three straight after it appeared they were in control of the series. Game Seven is Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Smith, a rookie, followed in a long, hard shot from the point by teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson that bounced off goalie Roberto Luongo.

Luongo didn't start the game but was called upon in the third period when Cory Schneider had to be helped off the ice when he was injured as he tried to stop Michael Frolik's penalty shot that tied it at 3.

Daniel Sedin, Alexandre Burrows and Kevin Bieska scored for the Canucks. Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland added goals for the Blackhawks.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford made 32 saves, including 12 in overtime when the Canucks appeared ready to win the game and end the series.

Chicago is attempting to become the fourth team in NHL history to win a seven-game series after falling behind, 3-0. The Philadelphia Flyers did it last year against Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Schneider was hurt trying to stop Frolik's goal at 2:31 of the final period and had to be helped off the ice after making 17 saves. Luongo, who'd been pulled in Games Four and Five after giving up 10 goals in 40 shots, then got his chance to play after all. Luongo finished with 12 saves.


Predators take series

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators finally might have turned Music City into Hockeytonk.

Nick Spaling scored his second goal of the game at 4:53 of the third period and the Predators won a playoff series for the first time in their history, beating the Anaheim Ducks, 4-2, on Sunday.

"I'm happy because I think of the resiliency of the group that worked so hard all year, and I'm relieved because there is a little bit of a cloud that we wanted to get to the next level," said Barry Trotz, the only coach of the franchise that hit the ice in the 1998-99 season.

"And if we never got there in this series, I think there would be a little bit of a carry-over."

Now the only questions about this team in the nontraditional hockey market is who the fifth-seeded Predators play in the Western Conference semifinals.

Steve Sullivan scored a goal, David Legwand had an empty-netter and Jordin Tootoo assisted on Spaling's goals. The Predators won the series, 4-2, in their sixth postseason in seven seasons to avoid going back to Anaheim for Game Seven.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne called the victory an amazing feeling before yet another sellout crowd.

"We really had a lot of push tonight," Rinne said. "We had a lot of emotion, and we really wanted to get it done tonight in our home building and just you know right now it was a tough series. And they have such a good team. They are never out of the game. It doesn't matter what we do, they always seem to respond."

"It was a great matchup and just couldn't be more happier to come out as a winner of this series."

Jason Blake scored a power-play goal, and Teemu Selanne also had a goal for the Ducks in what might have been the final game for the 40-year-old Finn. Anaheim looked tired after blowing a lead late before losing Game Five in overtime.


Today's games

* The Lightning still has life after Saturday's stunning 8-2 win over the Penguins in Game Five. But Tampa Bay still trails, three games to two. Game Six is on the Lightning's home ice tonight (7 p.m., Ch. 5, Versus).

* San Jose and Los Angeles continue their topsy-turvy series tonight in Los Angeles (10 p.m, Versus). The Sharks lead, three games to two. The Kings won Game Five in San Jose thanks mostly to the 51 saves of goalie Jonathan Quick.

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