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Patrick Kane scores, but Nashville Predators blast Chicago Blackhawks

By
Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Patrick Kane extended his Chicago Blackhawks-record point-scoring streak to 24 games with a third-period goal Thursday night.

However, Kane's 18th goal couldn't undo what the Nashville Predators did in the first period and what goalie Pekka Rinne protected during a hectic final two periods.

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After pumping three first-period goals past Chicago goalie Scott Darling, Nashville got a superb outing from Rinne as it scored a split of its home-and-home series with the Blackhawks by notching a 5-1 decision at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

"We came out flying in the first period," Rinne said. "But that's a good team in the other locker room. We knew they were going to push back, but we managed their momentum real well. We managed to stay out of the box and defended really well."

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Rinne (12-7-5) bagged 35 saves in winning for just the second time since Nov. 17. He turned away at least six Grade A chances in the second period, denying center Andrew Shaw four times and stoning Kane twice.

However, the Chicago right winger poked a rebound under a prone Rinne at 5:43 of the third period to continue a streak that started Oct. 17 in a 4-1 win over Columbus. Kane pumped his fist in the air after scoring as the Blackhawks fans in the building cheered loudly.

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Predators coach Peter Laviolette challenged the ruling on grounds of goaltender interference by center Marcus Kruger, but it was upheld via replay, cutting the Blackhawks' deficit to 3-1. Rinne was unhappy with the call, yapping at the officials before and after replay confirmed the call.

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"I thought (Kruger) tried to push me into the net," Rinne said. "I didn't agree with the call, but I haven't seen a replay."

It turned out not to matter. Right winger James Neal pounced on a Kane giveaway and zipped a wrister past Darling at 14:55 for his second goal of the night, and an empty-netter from left winger Eric Nystrom at 18:46 capped the scoring.

"You can't expect to play 60 minutes the way you like against Chicago," Laviolette said. "You just hope to play more good minutes than they do."

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Nashville (15-9-5) certainly played 20 more good minutes than the Blackhawks to start the proceedings. The Predators stormed the Chicago zone quickly, throwing five shots at Darling in the first 100 seconds and five more before the game was five minutes old.

The Predators' 11th shot, a wrister from Neal after he stickhandled around defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, beat Darling at 6:54 of the first period to open the scoring.

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Nashville made it 3-0 with two goals in a 37-second span late in the period.

Right winger Craig Smith's backhander plunked off Darling and trickled over the goal line at 15:56. Predators left winger Filip Forsberg, left alone in the slot on poor coverage, followed with a power-play marker at 16:33.

In the first period, the Predators finished with an 18-7 advantage in shots on goal, trying 30 total shots to the Blackhawks' 14.

"That was hard to watch," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the first 20 minutes. "That's as ugly as I've seen us play."

Darling (2-3-2) finished with 29 saves for the Blackhawks (15-10-4), which dumped Nashville 4-1 Tuesday night. By taking the rematch, the Predators jumped over Chicago into third place in the Central Division.

"I think we did a good job of being hard on their top guys and not giving them much, so I like the way we played tonight," Neal said. "Every line's first shift was big, and it got us rolling. We did a great job of holding them back."

Except for Kane's solitary tally that kept his lengthy streak alive.

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"I know he is the type of guy who would rather get the win than keep the streak going," Shaw said.

NOTES: Chicago D Trevor Daley (concussion) missed his second consecutive game. Daley was injured Sunday night in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. ... Nashville C Mike Fisher (lower-body injury) sat out his fifth consecutive game. He hasn't played since a 5-2 win Dec. 1 over the Arizona Coyotes. ... The Blackhawks' scratches were LW Brandon Mashinter and RW Marko Dano. ... The Predators scratched D Anthony Bitetto and LW Colin Wilson (lower-body injury).

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