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Predators rally to beat Hawks 3-2 in shootout

by John Kreiser
The Chicago Blackhawks had to know they were in trouble when they couldn't close out the Nashville Predators before the shootout.

Chicago led 2-0 after 40 minutes, but third-period goals by Jerred Smithson and Shea Weber got the Preds one point, and Pekka Rinne got the other by denying all three Chicago shootout attempts while Marcel Goc scored to give Nashville a 3-2 win on Saturday night.

Rinne stopped Jonathan Toews before Goc scored against Corey Crawford. He then foiled Kane before Patrick Sharp fired wide to improve to 16-7 all-time in shootouts, including five wins this season.

Smithson said Rinne did his best work during the first two periods, when the Blackhawks outworked and outplayed the Predators.

"If it wasn't for Pekka there, it very easily could have been 6-0 going into the third," Smithson said.

Rinne wound up stopping 31 shots before the shootout, which had the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena on its feet.

"The crowd was going crazy. It was such a good atmosphere going into overtime and the shootout," Rinne said. "This time Goc made a big goal in the shootout, and I was able to stop those shooters. Sometimes, I don't know, you just have to trust your instincts, and I enjoy those situations."

Tomas Kopecky scored a first-period power-play goal and Viktor Stalberg scored in the second period for Chicago, which outshot the Predators 23-12 through 40 minutes.

The Predators have won three of the first four games against the team that ousted them from the playoffs in the opening round last April. The teams meet again Sunday night in Chicago as the Predators start a season-long six-game road trip.

"It was a good way to start," coach Barry Trotz said. "The last home game of the month, do something that was worthwhile."

The game had a playoff atmosphere with fans chanting back and forth during intermissions --but the Blackhawks appeared to be cruising to a fourth straight win before Nashville came on strong in the third period.

"We had them right where we wanted them," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "Obviously, they got a little life off their goal, and the building got loud. They made a bang-bang play, and the wrong guy shot it. They had a good third period. We should have nailed it. That was a good opportunity for us."

Rookie goaltender Corey Crawford extended his shutout streak to 126 minutes, 23 seconds by keeping the Predators off the scoreboard through the first two periods. Smithson ended the streak at 9:46 of the third period, and Weber tied the game at 12:20.

Crawford said he didn't care about his shutout streak ending.

"At least we came out of this one with one (point). I think we could have had two there," he said.

Nick Spaling found Smithson in front of the net with a nice backhanded pass that Smithson snapped past Crawford to get the Preds on the board. Weber took a pass from Ryan Suter and blasted a slapper into the net for the tying goal.

"Anytime you have a guy with a shot like that, you want to utilize it," Smithson said of Weber, owner of one of the NHL's biggest slap shots. "You just battle hard and try to win that draw. The way he shoots the puck, anything can happen, and he found a way to put a goal in."

Rinne helped the Predators get to the shootout as he stopped Marian Hossa twice in OT and denied Sharp on a breakaway with a sprawling save at his left post.

"It's frustrating that we couldn't get it done," Toews said.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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