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The Blackhawks scored on three of their first four shots en route to a 5-2 win over Central Division rival Nashville at the United Center Wednesday.
Robert Lang and Patrick Sharp each scored twice while Martin Havlat picked up three assists in handing the Predators their 5th straight loss.
The victory moved Chicago into a three-way tie for 2nd place in the tight division race.
Nikolai Khabibulin put in another solid performance, making 19 saves, as the Hawks outshot the Predators 30-21.
The Hawks took the lead three minutes into the game when Havlat fed a pass to Lang, who banged a 10-footer past goalie Chris Mason. Rookie Petri Kontiola, just called up from Rockford, picked up an assist for his 1st NHL point.
|It’s unbelievable what the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp has been able to accomplish on special teams this season.|
Dustin Byfuglien connected on his team's second shot of the night at 5:23 when he took a pass from newcomer Ben Eager and beat defenseman Ryan Suter to score on a wrap-around for his 8th of the campaign.
Eager was playing in his first game as a Hawk after coming to the team from Philadelphia in a trade for defenseman Jim Vandermeer.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz responded by pulling Mason and replaced him with Dan Ellis in goal.
At the 10-minute mark on a Predators power play, Sharp picked up his league high 6th shorthanded goal when he got a pass from Jonathan Toews to blast a 35-footer into the upper left hand corner of the net. It was the team's 11th shortie of the year, which also leads the NHL.
While Khabibulin faced only six shots in the opening period, he made a big save in-close on Marek Zidlicky at 9:30 and thwarted Jason Arnott at point-blank range at the 13-minute mark.
At the start of the 2nd period on a Nashville power play, a potential goal was disallowed when the referee ruled that Alexander Radulov had tipped the puck with his stick above the crossbar.
Lang tallied his 2nd of the game at 3:15 to make it 4-0 when he got a perfect feed from Havlat to beat Ellis with a 25-footer in the lower right corner.
Nashville would spoil Khabibulin's hopes for a shutout with two power play goals 71 seconds apart. JP Dumont got his 9th of the season when he knocked Arnott's rebound in from just outside the crease. Then Radek Bonk tipped Shea Weber's long drive in for his 11th goal to make it 4-2.
Sharp's 2nd of the game and team-high 16th goal came in the final minute of the period on a power play while the Hawks enjoyed a two-man advantage. Sharp tipped Havlat's rebound past Ellis.
Last season, Sharp had his first 20-goal NHL season.
"Our best players were outstanding and everyone was going," said coach Denis Savard. "Our 4th line with Lapointe and Eager gave us an added plus."
Byfuglien led all players with five hits and tied Sharp and Brent Seabrook with four shots on goal. Arnott had five shots for Nashville.
The Hawks will head to Ottawa Saturday to face the Eastern Conference leaders before returning to the United Center Sunday to battle the Edmonton Oilers (6 pm).
AP Notes: After the game, Blackhawks coach Denis Savard announced the team had recalled D Cam Barker from Rockford of the AHL and planned to reassign D Magnus Johannson, who must first clear waivers. ... LW Ben Eager, acquired by Chicago from Philadelphia on Tuesday for D Jim Vandermeer, played his first game for the Blackhawks and had an assist on Byfuglien's goal. ... Chicago rookie C Petri Kontiola earned his first NHL point with an assist. .... The Blackhawks named two of their legendary former players - Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita - as "official ambassadors" on Wednesday. The Hall-of-Famers are two of only five players whose numbers have been retired by the team. Mikita is the Blackhkawks' all-time leader in games (1,394) and points (1,467). Hull is the team's all-time goal-scoring leader (604). ... Nashville LW Steve Sullivan remains out indefinitely with a back injury.
Head coach Barry Trotz: "The first two shots of the game, we're down 2-0. We're down 3-0 after the first four shots. We haven't been scoring a lot of goals, but that's a pretty big hole for us to dig ourselves out of. We get to 4-2, got a little momentum, then we got a 2-on-1. Then we take a penalty to make it 5-2 and sort of sealed the deal for us. I gotta switch goalies anyway. I want everybody's attention. It's 2-0 that early in the game I wanted to get everyone's attention, see if we can bring it back together before it got way out of hand. Unfortunately, you don't want to call a time out a few minutes into the game.
"It was a flat start, but I thought we had a lot of guys that ... coverage was really non-existent. Guys were cutting corners and we paid for it. We had a few guys that were going, our power play got us back into the game, did a really good job getting it to 4-2 and we took a bad penalty. 5-on-3, killed it off ... the 5-on-4 with four seconds to go and they score. We kill it off, maybe get a puck on a 2-on-1, power play goal and we're right back in it and claw our way back. Once they got that fifth one it took a lot of steam out of our dressing room."
Center Jason Arnott: "We sneaked back into it and took a couple penalties which killed it and they got a power play goal to make it 5-2 and that's the accountability that we need. We come out in the second a lot better than we did in the first, made it 4-2, looks like we're back in the game. We can't be taking those penalties and doing things like that, especially after the loss against Minnesota. It's disappointing. It's tough but that's part of the game. We can't sit back and hang our heads we have to keep pushing forward."
Right wing J.P. Dumont: "Right now I think we need a new start. It's a strange thing to say but we need everybody to play ... everybody excited and ready to play and having some fun out there. The only way to do that is by playing the system and winning the hockey game. We're going to have to do whatever it takes. Everybody has to finish checks, everybody has to block shots, everybody has to play down low. All the little things that makes a good team, we have to make sure we all do it, we all do it for each other and not for anybody else."