NASHVILLE - Jeffrey Hamilton flipped the puck over a sprawling Chris Mason, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday night for their third straight victory.
Jason Williams and Radim Vrbata scored to start the shootout for Chicago with similar shots that easily beat Mason, who had skated out to the edge of the crease. Mikael Holmqvist and Dustin Byfuglien scored in regulation for Chicago.
The Predators have lost three straight and are 3-5-2 over their past 10 to drop out of the top of the NHL, Western Conference and Central Division standings. With the point for reaching overtime, they have a four-point lead over San Jose and Dallas for the No. 4 seed with two games to play.
Dan Hamhuis and Kimmo Timonen scored a goal for Nashville, and Paul Kariya had two assists, giving him his sixth 50-assist season and putting him one shy of 500 for his NHL career.
But the Predators went 0-for-4 with the man advantage, including one at the end of regulation and in overtime. Only Kariya scored in the shootout for Nashville with Chicago going first.
Blackhawks goalie Patrick Lalime gloved Alexander Radulov's shot on Nashville's first attempt. Patrick Sharp had a chance to put Chicago up off a breakaway with about three minutes left but couldn't get off much of a shot. Then he picked up a tripping penalty that put Nashville on the power play, but the Predators couldn't take advantage. In overtime. Lalime stopped Shea Weber twice with pad saves, then stopped Peter Forsberg from the left circle late to force the shootout. The Predators received good news with the return of center Scott Nichol, who had missed 11 games with a broken thumb. Forward Scott Hartnell (broken foot) is expected back Thursday night.
But the Predators hardly look like a team that was atop the West the past few weeks. The Blackhawks outshot the home team 31-26, and Chicago also killed off 52 seconds of a 5-on-3 at 11:37 when Brent Seabrook was called for tripping.
Holmqvist put Chicago up 1-0 when he scored unassisted on a wrister at 2:26 off a turnover by Hamhuis. Timonen redirected a pass from Kariya from the right post past Lalime at 7:51 of the second and tied it at 1-all. J.P. Dumont passed the puck back to Hamhuis from the left circle, and the defenseman scored on a one-timer that beat Lalime's outstretched glove. Byfuglien, called up Monday from Norfolk with Adrian Aucoin out, tied the game at 10:56 with a wrister from the right circle. He beat Mason through the legs.comments powered by Disqus