Suddenly Surging Predators Destroy Blackhawks

By Steve Palumbo

With six games remaining until the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Nashville Predators have picked the perfect time for their offense to start heating up. The Preds have won two in a row after dispatching of the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1, thanks in part to a three goal eruption in the third period.

Despite playing without leading scorer Martin Erat, Nashville was able to put six goals on the board for the first time since a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks back on Feb. 25.

Erat, who leads the team with 57 points, was scratched because of an upper-body injury but that didn’t slow down Nashville’s resurgent offense. The Predators have outscored their opponents 9-2 in the last two games and look poised to cruise into the playoffs ready to make some noise.

Matt Halischuk, Andrei Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, Francis Bouillon, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher scored for the Predators. The six goals matched their highest offensive output of the season.

Alexander Radulov doesn’t seem to be having much trouble re-acclimating himself to the NHL game. In his third game back he played just over 20 minutes, collecting an assist and finished plus-2 with five shots on net.

Viktor Stalberg scored for the Blackhawks, who were playing the first game of Duncan Keith’s five-game suspension for elbowing Daniel Sedin. The loss snapped Chicago’s five-game winning streak. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews also missed his 16th straight game with a concussion.

The Hawks had been off since last Wednesday and the Predators played the night before. Any concern of fatigue playing a role in the game were quickly wiped away with Nashville’s two first period goals.

Pekke Rinne made 24 saves for the win, improving  his season mark to 41-16-8 with a 2.41 goals against average.

The Predators notched points 95 and 96, moving them past the Detroit Red Wings for fourth in the Western Conference. The teams will meet head-to-head on Friday with first-round home ice possibly on the line.

The win also increased Nashville’s lead to four points over the sixth-place Blackhawks. The Preds improved their record to 4-0-1 against Chicago this season.

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