Nashville tunes up Blackhawks with 7 goals, wins 7-5 - FOX 32 News Chicago

Nashville tunes up Blackhawks with 7 goals, wins 7-5

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Using barn burner and the Nashville Predators in the same sentence seldom happens, but it would apply on Saturday night. The Predators rallied from a 3-2 third period deficit to score five times in the final frame to defeat the Blackhawks 7-5.

The Hawks came out with a much better effort and took a 2-0 lead on goals by Ben Smith and Marian Hossa. After Hossa scored his 30th goal of the season on a beautiful individual effort, Joel Quenneville shut him down for the rest of night. Hossa put in a productive 4:30 and will now focus on the playoffs after hitting the 30 goal mark for the first time as a Blackhawk.

Each side traded goals in the middle frame, but the highlight of the night was rookie Matt Carey scoring his first ever NHL goal. Carey snapped off a nice wrist shot to beat Pekka Rinne and afterward had a smile from ear to ear.

In the final period, the Preds scored twice to take the lead and the Blackhawks could never regain command. Jeremy Morin scored his fifth goal and Andrew Shaw connected for his 20th marker.

Amazingly, Nashville scored five goals in the third period. Through 81 games the Predators have a total of 209 goals which is 58 fewer than the Blackhawks. Scoring seven goals in one game seldom happens for the Preds. It isn't unusual for Nashville to score seven goals in three games. To say things got a bit loose in the third period would be an understatement.

Games that don't really matter, like the last two are difficult to play. The concentration isn't there and that usually shows up as goals against. Players don't usually consciously worry about getting hurt, but with the playoffs coming the fear of injury must be in the back of their mind.

Patrick Sharp and Hossa chose to play while Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michal Handzus did not dress.

An interesting stat is Handzus has played in 59 games and has recorded 50 shots on goal. Morin has seen action in only 24 games but is credited with 46 shots, only four fewer than Handzus. Morin has played well enough to be in consideration for playoff duty.

Antti Raanta got the start and was OK, but if he plays in the postseason it could be a sign of trouble. Raanta performed well when Corey Crawford was out injured, but since then has been hit or miss. He had a decent rookie campaign and will benefit from the experience. If Raanta is forced into action in the playoffs, there is no telling how he will respond.

The playoffs for the Blackhawks will begin on Thursday, either in Colorado or St. Louis. The Blues will play Detroit at home Sunday, while the Avalanche will do battle in Anaheim.

St. Louis will be facing an opponent that has their playoff position locked in. The Red Wings will face the Bruins in the first round.

The Blues are currently tied in points with the Avalanche, but they lose the tiebreaker. If St. Louis doesn't finish ahead of Colorado, they will host the Blackhawks in the first round. If St. Louis wins the Central Division, they will battle Minnesota and Colorado will play the Hawks.

Colorado has a lot at stake, while Anaheim has secured the top position in the Western Conference on Saturday night. If the Blues win an earlier game on Sunday, the Av's will have to defeat the Ducks to win the Central Division.

If Colorado and St. Louis finish with the same point total, the Av's have the tiebreaker. If that happens, the Blackhawks will face the Blues in Round 1.

You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia. 

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