(Sunday, April 7th)
Final Score: Chicago 5, Nashville 3
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The Chicago Blackhawks became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2013 NHL playoffs after edging the Nashville Predators, 5-3, on Sunday.
Jonathan Toews tallied the game-winner with 9:28 left, while Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad also tallied for the Blackhawks, who picked up their league-leading 62nd point with the win. Patrick Kane added an empty netter in the final minute.
"We obviously wanted to stay in the spot we're in in the standings," Toews said, "But first and foremost, our goal coming in every season is making the playoffs."
Ray Emery had 19 saves in the victory.
Nick Spaling, Shea Weber and David Legwand each lit the lamp for the Predators, losers in six of their last seven games.
Pekka Rinne turned away 35 shots in the setback.
In the first, Michael Frolik's shot bounced off Rinne and off the boards, but Shaw was there for the rebound and quickly fired it between Rinne and the near post for a 1-0 Chicago edge.
Sergei Kostitsyn picked off a poor pass in the Chicago zone and centered it to Spaling, who deposited it into the back of the net from the doorstep to tie the game.
Bickell took a pass near the blue line, skated to the net and ripped a wrister for his eighth goal of the season 2:09 into the middle session.
Weber's goal tied the game at the 14:06 mark, and Legwand put the visitors ahead 3-2 with a goal just a minute later.
Saad took a pass from Duncan Keith in front of the net, but was stoned by Rinne. The rebound bounced right back to Saad, and he was able to get it past Rinne to tie the game.
Kane recovered a loose puck behind the Predators' goal and found Toews streaking to the net. Toews took the feed and rippled the twine with a snap shot to give Chicago the lead.
"We got beat to the puck on the one (Toews) goal," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It was just individual stuff. That's on our D. Our D has got to have that puck."
Kane's empty netter accounted for the final margin.
The Blackhawks will visit the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday ... Kane has 20 goals and 26 assists this season ... Nashville will host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday ... Weber also had an assist.
04/07 21:58:38 ET