Predators Vs. Blackhawks: Nashville Seizes Home Ice Advantage With 6-1 Victory

Mar 25, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Nashville Predators right wing Alexander Radulov (47) shoots the puck against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery (30) during the third period at the United Center. The Predators beat the Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

With the Chicago Blackhawks missing Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews, the Nashville Predators would only add to their misery in a 6-1 drubbing at the United Center.

For the Chicago Blackhawks, the worst possible opponent to start life without Duncan Keith might well have been the Nashville Predators, who have taken seven points out of their last four meetings.

Tonight would be no different, thanks to Pekka Rinne and an offensive explosion that would end up chasing Corey Crawford before the end of the evening.

Chicago tried to set a physical tone against the Predators when Brandon Bollig dropped the gloves against Jordin Tootoo, in a battle that sent Tootoo out of the game with an undisclosed injury.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, the boost of energy from the tilt was undone when Viktor Stalberg misplayed a puck at the side of his own net, where it hit the tape of Matt Halischuk's stick. The winger unloaded the puck immediately, firing it past Corey Crawford to open the scoring.

Chicago tried to fire back, but Pekka Rinne was up for the challenge, making stops at even strength and on the penalty kill before David Legwand pulled the puck out of his own zone and carried through the top of the Blackhawks' zone before dropping a pass to Andrei Kostitsyn, who unloaded a long blast from the top of the faceoff circle to give the Predators a 2-0 lead.

The score stood through the first intermission and into the early second period when Dave Bolland was called for a roughing minor after the agitator gave a hard run to rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis behind his own net.

The Predators' top ranked power play then went to work, holding possession and getting several looks at the net before Shea Weber fired an explosive shot that shattered Marian Hossa's stick when he attempted to block the shot, caromed off the skate of Alexander Radulov and deflected off Patric Hornqvist before sliding past Crawford and into the net.

Chicago outshot the Predators 17-14 after 40 minutes, but remained down 3-0 at the start of the third period, a score that lasted fewer than two minutes into the period, when Francis Boullion fired a shot from the blue line that tucked just under the crossbar.

Down 4-0, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville unloaded a few choice expletives before calling for backup Ray Emery to take over in goal.

The switch in net paid dividends when Viktor Stalberg broke Rinne's shutout bid just after a slashing call to Patrik Hornqvist had expired, but the cheers of the fans filling the madhouse on Madison had barely faded when Shea Weber restored the four goal lead with another booming slapshot that blasted through an open lane and into the back of the net.

Mike Fisher capped the scoring on a two-on-one break with Andrei Kostitsyn, looking off the defender before firing the puck to put the Predators up 6-1.

The victory moves Nashville into fourth place in the Western Conference, edging out the Detroit Red Wings, while Chicago will play four more matches without Keith, including a rematch with the Predators and the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks have only six points of breathing room above the battle for eight place.

See the rest of the NHL scoreboard.

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