Juuse Saros made 29 saves and Ryan Ellis had two assists as the Nashville Predators recorded a 3-1 road victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
The victory helped solidify Nashville’s position in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Predators (26-21-2, 54 points) are four points ahead of the fifth-place Dallas Stars and sixth-place Chicago (22-21-5, 49 points).
Ryan Johansen, Luke Kunin, and Erik Haula scored for the Predators.
Ellis’ two assists marked the defenseman’s first multi-point game of the season.
Nashville finished the season series with a 7-0-1 record over the Blackhawks.
Saros has been a major reason for that success, stopping 29 of 30 shots on Friday for his latest strong performance against Chicago. Saros is 5-0-1 with a .948 save percentage in six games against the Blackhawks this season.
Vinnie Hinostroza denied Saros the shutout with Chicago’s lone goal, coming at 16:41 of the third period. A video review was required to confirm that Hinostroza’s re-directed puck just barely crossed the goal line.
Both teams provided heavy pressure during a scoreless first period, but it took until 6:33 of the second frame for the opening goal. During a scramble in front of Chicago’s net, Johansen found a loose puck for his fifth goal of the season.
The Predators extended their lead 10 minutes later. Mikael Granlund passed from behind the net to Kunin, who snuck the puck into a sliver of room between goalie Malcolm Subban and the goalpost.
Kunin and Granlund have combined for 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in eight games apiece against the Blackhawks this season.
Haula’s goal at 16:05 of the third period was another tough concession for Subban. Haula was almost in the corner and perpendicular to the net, yet his shot found its way past Subban for the Nashville forward’s sixth goal of the season.
Subban stopped 25 of 28 shots.
Blackhawks forward Pius Suter had three shots on net, and also fired a shot off the goalpost early in the second period.
–Field Level Media
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