Preds top fading Chicago 3-1, tighten hold on 4th in Central


CHICAGO — Juuse Saros made 29 saves, Luke Kunin scored for the third straight game and the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Friday night.

Ryan Johansen and Erik Haula also scored for the Predators, who improved to 26-21-2 (54 points) and strengthened their grip on fourth place and the final playoff berth in the Central Division.

Vinnie Hinostroza scored with 3:19 left in the third period to spoil Saros’ shutout bid.

Nashville finished its season series with Chicago at 7-0-1. The Predators rebounded with tidy effort after Chicago rallied with three goals in the third period and went on to a 5-4 overtime win on Wednesday.

Malcolm Subban stopped 25 shots in his second straight start, but gave up two soft goals. The loss left fading Chicago in sixth place in the Central with 49 points (22-21-5), five behind Nashville with eight games remaining.

Saros was sharp throughout, especially in the scoreless first period when Chicago came on to dominate late in the frame.

Subban kept it scoreless with a close-in left pad save on Johansen with about 4 minutes left after Johansen took Viktor Arvidsson’s feed on a 2-on-1 break.

Pius Suter actually beat Saros with a shot from the slot about a minute into the second, but the puck clanked off the crossbar, bounced onto the ice and slid clear.

Johansen opened the scoring at 6:33 of the second. Johansen was battling with Chicago’s Kirby Dach in the crease and knocked in a loose puck after Ryan Ellis whipped it in front from left wing.

Kunin gave Nashville a 2-0 lead with 3:36 left in the second on a soft goal. His shot from a sharp angle to the right of the net somehow slipped under Subban’s skate as the Blackhawks goalie hugged the right post.

Kunin, who has seven goals overall, finished with four goals and four assists in eight games against Chicago this season.

Haula made it 3-0 with 3:55 left in the third when his shot from the right corner slipped in off Subban’s equipment.

Moments later, Wyatt Kalynuk flipped in a shot that barely made it over the goal line after Hinostroza deflected it. The goal needed video confirmation.

HE’S NO. 1

Saros made his seventh straight start, 12th in 13 games and 15th in 17, as he has taken the mantle of Nashville’s No. 1 goalie from fellow Finn, 38-year-old Pekka Rinne.


Chicago defenseman Calvin de Haan (hip, day-to-day) sat out, but the Blackhawks played with seven defensemen as slumping center Dylan Strome was scratched for a second straight game. Rookie D-man Nicolas Beaudin, one of Chicago’s top prospects, took de Haan’s spot. Strome had one goal and one assist in his previous eight.


Predators: Host Florida on Monday in the first of a two-game set.

Blackhawks: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

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