CHICAGO — Duncan Keith waited and waited for just the right moment, and then unloaded.
Another big goal for Chicago’s top defenseman moved the Blackhawks into the second round of the playoffs.
Keith scored at 16:12 of the third period, and Chicago overcame a brutal start on its way to a clinching 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday in Game 6 of their tight postseason series.
“Certainly our guys, when the games are on the line, the stakes are higher, they just love that challenge and like to meet it and rise to it.” Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville said.
Keith beat a screened Pekka Rinne with a laser from the left point. The defenseman, who had the winning goal in a 4-3 double-overtime victory in the series opener, also had two assists. Just as they did in Game 1, the Blackhawks won after making an early goalie switch.
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago, and Corey Crawford stopped 13 shots after replacing Scott Darling in the first period after the rookie gave up three goals.
The Blackhawks will face Minnesota in the Western Conference semifinals as they try to finish an up-and-down season with their third Stanley Cup title since 2010. They eliminated the the Wild in last year’s playoffs.
James Neal had two goals for Nashville, and Matt Cullen also scored. Rinne made 28 saves, but got beat on some tough shots.
The winner came when Keith retrieved the puck just inside the blue line and waited for an opening before sending a drive past the goalie’s right shoulder with 3:48 left.