CHICAGO -- Even with their top point producer sidelined by an injury, the Nashville Predators had plenty of offense. And they had Pekka Rinne in goal Sunday night. That combination helped them rout the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1 and move into fourth place in the Western Conference.
"I liked our response to anything that happened in the game. We got good efforts from everybody, from the goal out, we really did," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "The overall playoff picture probably doesn't really matter to me right now. The most important thing is we're going to focus on ourselves. We can't worry about anything else."
The victory gave the Predators 96 points, one more than Detroit and four more than the sixth-place Blackhawks, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. It also gave Nashville a 4-0-1 record against Chicago this season.
Nashville's Martin Erat, who has tied a career high with 57 points, was scratched because of an upper-body injury after logging 19 minutes Saturday night in a win over Winnipeg.
"It doesn't matter who we have in the lineup and how many offensive guys we have. That's our game. We have to be solid defensively and work hard and keep it simple and the offensive part of the game is going to come," said Rinne, who made 24 saves.
"I think tonight is a good example of that. We still have a lot of skill on the team and when we get our scoring chances, guys put the puck in the net."
"It doesn't matter who's playing. We've been winning a lot of games with guys out," Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "We've got to do a better effort out there. That's what it's all about. ... They were better than us, pretty much, all over the ice."
Matt Halischuk, Andrei Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, Francis Bouillon, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher scored for the Predators, who matched their season high with the six goals. Viktor Stalberg had Chicago's lone score.
Later in the period, Kositsyn's shot from high in the left circle sailed over Corey Crawford's blocker and into the net, giving the Preds a 2-0 lead.
Rinne had 11 first-period saves, three early in the game, and helped turn away two Blackhawks power plays to set the tone. Chicago was 0 for 4 on the power play without getting off a shot.
"I thought we were well-prepared for their power play. We have a strong penalty kill and it's big again tonight," Rinne said.
Hornqvist was credited with a deflection goal on the power play when Weber's hard shot from the high slot broke the stick of Chicago's Marian Hossa, went off Alexander Radulov's skate and trickled past Crawford for a 3-0 lead in the second. The goal was upheld by video replay.
And after Bouillon's long wrister from way out on the left boards eluded a screened Crawford two minutes into the final period to make it 4-0, Crawford was pulled in favor of Ray Emery. Crawford gave up four goals on just 15 shots.
"That wasn't our team. That wasn't me," said Crawford, who'd won five straight. "Just got to forget about it plain and simple. .... It seemed like everything wasn't going our way."
Four minutes later, right after a Chicago power play ended, Stalberg scored from the left circle, ending Rinne's shutout bid. But 36 seconds later, immediately after a faceoff, Weber rifled in a shot past Emery to restore Nashville's four-goal lead. Fisher scored with 2:27 left.
|The Predators match their season high with six goals to move into fourth place in the West. (AP)|
|Nashville (44-24-8) «||2||1||3||6|
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|06:16||- Matt Halischuk (14), Snap Shot. Assist: Yip, Gaustad|
|15:28||- Andrei Kostitsyn (16), Wrist Shot. Assist: Legwand, Hornqvist|
|05:42||Power Play - Patric Hornqvist (25), Tip-In. Assist: Radulov, Weber|
|02:00||- Francis Bouillon (2), Slap Shot. Assist: Ellis, Halischuk|
|05:58||- Viktor Stalberg (19), Wrist Shot. Assist: Leddy, Shaw|
|06:34||- Shea Weber (16), Slap Shot. Assist: Fisher|
|17:33||- Mike Fisher (24), Wrist Shot. Assist: Bourque, Rinne|
|04:56||Tootoo, 5 min, Fighting|
|04:56||Bollig, 5 min, Fighting|
|10:36||Kostitsyn, 2 min, Tripping|
|16:32||Yip, 2 min, Boarding|
|04:39||Bolland, 2 min, Roughing|
|06:56||O'Donnell, 2 min, High-Sticking|
|13:34||Weber, 2 min, Interference|
|03:57||Hornqvist, 2 min, Slashing|
|Shots On Goal|