The Blackhawks scored three unanswered 1st period goals and Patrick Lalime stopped 29 shots as Chicago wound up its home schedule before nearly 22,000 cheering fans with a 3-1 decision over Nashville Friday at the United Center.
Despite missing the playoffs by the virtue of the Predators' win the night before, the Hawks won their fourth straight and captured the season series 5-1-2 against Nashville.
The visitors scored on their first shot of the game at 2:18 with Rich Peverley tallying his 5th of the campaign on a 2-on-1 break, but after that the Hawks added the next three scores while Lalime kept the Predators at bay.
Just over two minutes later during a Nashville power play, Adam Burish stole the puck at center ice and broke in while defender Ville Koistinen collided with him and Mason in the goal crease. The puck went into the net for a 2-1 Hawk lead and a brief video review showed that Burish's shot was knocked in by Koistinen.
Near the 10-minute mark, the Predators almost tied the game on a shot by Darcy Hordichuk. The puck slipped past Lalime, but Hawk defenseman James Wisniewski alertly cut in behind his goalie to knock the shot away.
The Hawks went up 3-1 at 11:09 when Kane registered his 20th of the season by deflecting a pass from Patrick Sharp. Again there was a brief video review showing the puck hit off his stick, chest and Mason's glove.
The 19 year-old, who was named the game's #1 star, increased his league scoring lead among rookies by three points over Washington's Nicklas Backstrom (71-68) while adding to the team's assist mark (51) for first-year players.
The rest of the game really belonged to Lalime who was making his first start since March 16. At 13:30 he made a key stop on Alexander Radulov; kicked out a point-blank shot at the 16 minute mark by Jered Smithson; and in the final two seconds of the period denied a 10-footer by Martin Erat.
In the 2nd period, Lalime again stymied the Nashville offense on six scoring chances. At the four-minute mark, he robbed Radulov on a 15-footer; kicked out a 10-footer by Peverley; and made a pad save on a 30-foot blast by Koistinen midway through the frame.
Lalime continued his stellar performance at 13:30 on a wraparound attempt by Radek Bonk; saved a quick 15-foot turnaround shot up the slot by Erat; and then managed to glove a tip-in attempt by Brandon Bochenski near the 19-minute mark.
Nashville outshot Chicago 30-20, but failed on three power play attempts while the Hawks received only one chance with the man advantage.
In the final period, Lalime thwarted Jan Hlavac on a power play rebound shot and then stopped Radulov on a 2-on-1 break in close at the 14-minute mark.
Hawks coach Denis Savard said the fan reaction cheering the last minute of the game was a terrific send-off for his team.
As has been the tradition the past few seasons on the last home game, the players gave their jerseys to the fans and the largest crowd of the year stuck around cheering the Hawks for their efforts.
Once again Duncan Keith led all skaters with 26+ minutes of ice time while Wisniewski dished out five hits to lead all players.
The Hawks wound up their home ice mark at 23-16-2, their best since 2001-02, and will close out the season Sunday afternoon against league point-champ Detroit, who they have beaten five times this year.
AP Notes: The Blackhawks' season-high crowd of 21,929 was their 12th sellout of the season. ... Chicago LW Ben Eager missed his 12th game with a shoulder injury. ... Nashville C David Legwand missed his 13th with a bone bruise in his foot. ... Four Nashville regulars were rested as healthy scratches - D Marek Zidlicky, D Greg de Vries, C Jason Arnott and G Dan Ellis. ... Chicago LW Adam Berti was recalled from Rockford of the AHL on Friday and played in his first NHL game.
Head coach Barry Trotz: "They didn't have much focus tonight and that was part of it. We had a pretty emotional night last night and they countered, got a couple of goals on us. I thought the rest of the game [Patrick] Lalime was outstanding. I thought we could have scored six or seven goals in the second period. We couldn't convert. We had some great chances in the third but he was good and we weren't as good as we needed to be after the start. The start got us in the hole but it just shows our team. We wanted to win, we wanted to get the two points. Doesn't matter when we play, we have to get two points. That's all there has to be and we lost in the first period."