CHICAGO (AP) -Patrick Kane scored with 43.4 seconds to play, his second goal of the game, capping a wild third period Sunday night and lifting the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators.
John Madden scored twice in the third for the NHL-leading Blackhawks, who beat Nashville on consecutive nights to open an eight-point lead in the Central Division over the second-place Predators.
Chicago (26-9-3) trailed 2-1 entering the final period, went up 4-2, let Nashville tie it and then finally won on Kane's team-high 15th goal.
Dan Ellis stopped Kane's shot from the right circle but Troy Brouwer got to the rebound and flipped the puck back to Kane, who wristed a shot over Ellis.
The Blackhawks have won seven of their last eight games and their 55 points are the most they've had after 38 games since the 1982-83 team had 56 - back when points were not awarded for losses after regulation.
Martin Elat scored his ninth goal in the last 12 games for the Predators, who have suffered three straight losses after a 19-5-2 stretch had pulled them close to Chicago.
|Despite the result, some strong positives out of tonight’s game at Chicago. The Preds put forth a much more complete effort than they showed last night or at Vancouver on Tuesday night. And Martin Erat continued his elite play, scoring his 14th goal of the season – 10th this month, tying a Preds team record for most goals in a single month. Erat’s resurgence, which started while paired with Marcel Goc and has continued since his move along side Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan, has moved him among the league’s top-30 goal scorers this season.
Plus, after playing the NHL’s top team in back-to-back games (Chicago has a league-high 55 points), the schedule takes a turn in the other direction. Five of Nashville’s next six games come against teams currently ranked in the bottom-10 of the NHL standings. St. Louis, Tuesday night’s opponent, has 39 points, including a 6-12-2 mark at home. Columbus, who the Preds visit on New Year’s Eve, has 35 points, with a 1-7-2 mark in its last 10 games. The Preds then open a four-game home stand to kick off 2010 featuring Carolina (a league-low 25 points) and two games vs. Anaheim (37 points). In fact, over the next 14 games, the Preds only play five against teams currently in a playoff seed.
Further, based on current league standings, the Preds may have already survived the toughest part of their schedule. After tonight’s games, eight teams in the league have 50-or-more points; the Preds have already played 13 games against those eight teams, with just nine more match-ups remaining on the schedule. Conversely, the Preds have played just 10 games against teams currently ranked in the bottom 10 of the league standings, with 16 more contests left – including those five important games in the next two weeks.
With a solid effort over the next two weeks the Preds can return to the task of distancing themselves from the playoff cut line and make this weekend’s results look like a minor blip over the course of the 82-game haul.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
Madden's goals came 5:32 apart and gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead with 7:48 to go. Brian Campbell then beat Ellis on a power play.
The Predators didn't back down, however, and defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Cody Franson beat Antti Niemi on shots from the point in a 57-second span to make it 4-4 with 3:25 remaining.
Nashville's Marcel Goc scored 1:35 into the game, deflecting Franson's shot past Niemi.
Kane, the 21-year-old star playing his 200th career game, tied it at 6:55 by scoring on his own rebound.
Erat's rebound goal 47 seconds into the second period put the Predators ahead 2-1. It was was his team-high 14th of the season but just his third on the road.
The teams won't face each other again in the regular season. Chicago won the season series 4-2.
NOTES: The Blackhawks killed both Nashville power plays and haven't allowed a man-advantage goal at home since San Jose scored on Nov. 15. ... The Predators have allowed at least one power-play goal in seven straight games. ... Nashville has scored in 19 of its last 23 regulation periods. ... The Blackhawks are 7-0-2 in the second game of back-to-backs vs. 3-5-1 in the first game.