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Blackhawks damage Predators' playoff chances with 4-2 win

NHL.com @NHL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Martin Havlat scored an empty-net goal and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Predators 4-2 Tuesday night, damaging Nashville's playoff hopes.

Nashville is in a tight race for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks already are in. Jonathan Toews, Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks in their fourth straight win.

Vernon Fiddler and Jason Arnott scored for the Predators.

Fiddler opened the scoring on the power play. He shot the puck across the crease and it bounced off of Chicago's Matt Walker and past goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.

But in the second period the Blackhawks struck three times.

Toews needed only 12 seconds to beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot on a two-on-one break. Byfuglien scored 38 seconds later on a rebound.

Kane got Chicago's third goal of the second period, capitalizing on a turnover by Nashville's Dan Hamhuis. Kane skated through the inside edge of the left circle and backhanded a shot that went between Rinne's stick and the left post.

The Predators answered early in the third period. Steve Sullivan was skating down the left side of the ice and found Arnott low in the slot. Arnott beat Khabibulin to his stick side.

Havlat clinched it when he hit the empty net with 55 seconds remaining in regulation.

Notes: The Blackhawks came into the game averaging 3.15 goals per game. ... Ryan Jones returned to the lineup for the Predators after missing seven games with an upper body injury. ... Khabibulin has won seven of his last eight starts. ... Arnott has four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in the two games since his return from a concussion.

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