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game recap

Predators spoil Blackhawks' big day

Chicago loses after earlier trading for veteran forward Ladd

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The Nashville Predators didn't have captain Shea Weber, but goalie Pekka Rinne was in top form, leading the way to a 3-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday. 

Rinne made 38 saves, including 28 on 29 shots in the first two periods, to keep the game tied long enough for Calle Jarnkrok to put the Predators ahead 2-1 with 1:51 left in the third. 

Mike Fisher fed a pass to Jarnkrok in the left circle and he one-timed it over the shoulder of Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Miikka Salomaki scored into an empty net at 18:57, and Nashville (30-21-11) extended its Predators-record road point streak to 10 games (8-0-2). 

"We're gaining some confidence all the time and playing good hockey, and just getting some points," said Rinne, who is 7-3-2 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in his past 12 appearances. "It's like tonight, just the way we stuck with it and played a really strong third period. Sometimes we've had slow starts, but third periods have been strong for us, and that's a good sign." 

Weber, who left Nashville's morning skate early, missed his second game with a lower-body injury; the defenseman is day-to-day. Without Weber, defenseman Ryan Ellis again moved up to play with Roman Josi on the top pair.

Video: NSH@CHI: Jarnkrok breaks the tie late in regulation

The Blackhawks outshot the Predators 39-32 but weren't able to generate many high-quality scoring chances and beat Rinne once, on a goal by defenseman Brent Seabrook at 5:27 of the second period. 

That put Chicago up 1-0, but Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson tied it 1-1 at 9:08. 

"We've been playing well defensively and our goaltending's been awesome," Josi said. "Pekka was great tonight. He really saved us there in the first period. [They had] a lot of Grade A chances and he made a couple of unreal saves, and even [again] in the second. He was great for us and we're playing better as a team ... more consistent, I guess." 

Crawford made 29 saves for the Blackhawks (38-20-5), who before the game traded to reacquire forward Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets. They could've used Ladd's presence around the net against the Predators. 

"We didn't give up a [good scoring] chance until they scored the goal in the third, but we didn't generate a whole lot," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "But I thought in the second we had good looks. First period, [we] had some decent looks, and there were some opportunities that looked like they were dangerous, like there was something was coming. But we didn't have the finish today. Their goalie played good." 

Chicago has 81 points and remained one behind the first-place Dallas Stars (82 points) in the Central Division. The Stars lost 6-3 to the Winnipeg Jets. 

Video: Rinne backstops Predators to third straight win

"We're certainly disappointed we didn't get anything with the scores going on in our division tonight that are going on," Quenneville said. 

The Predators do not play the Blackhawks again in the regular season. Nashville won two of five games against Chicago and go home to Bridgestone Arena for three games after sweeping a three-game road trip that started with back-to-back wins at the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. 

"Anytime you beat Chicago, it's a good win," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They're a good hockey team. Year after year, they're pressing in the playoffs and pressing for their division. It's never an easy thing coming in here. Our guys played really hard tonight." 

Rinne's lunging save with his right pad to deny a goal by Jonathan Toews off a 2-on-1 stood out at 7:49 of the first, but a save to thwart Andrew Shaw's breakaway at 19:28 of the second drew Laviolette's attention. 

"Pekka played great tonight," Laviolette said. "He made some really big saves at really key times. The save at the end of the second period was probably the biggest, and maybe the turning point in the game. It would've been 2-1 going into the third period and [you're] not feeling great because you let up a goal in the last minute of the second period, so that save was huge." 

The Blackhawks play the Washington Capitals at United Center on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, SN). It's unknown if Ladd will play, but that was a side note after a disappointing loss. 

"[It was] just kind of a pretty defensive-minded game where there weren't a whole lot of big scoring chances," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Unfortunately, they were able to get one real late in the game there. Frustrating way to lose."

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