By TIM CRONIN | Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Tyson Barrie, Philip Tomasino and Colton Sissons each had goals, Juuse Saros made 27 saves and the Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Saturday night.
The Predators won their second game in a row and fifth in six games in their quest for a Western Conference wild-card spot.
“We’ve worked hard to put ourselves in a position where we’re competing for the playoffs,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. ”We want to put some heat on the teams ahead of us and play some meaningful games down the stretch."
Seth Jones scored the lone goal for the Blackhawks, who lost their fourth straight.
Barrie, playing his second game for Nashville since he was traded from Edmonton on Tuesday, made it 2-1 at 12:08 of the second with a 55-foot drive that was deflected by the Blackhawks’ Philipp Kurashev. Ryan McDonagh picked up an assist on the play. Petr Mrazek was screened by teammate Nikita Zaitsev, making his debut with Chicago.
“It was emotional switching teams, but the guys have been great,” Barrie said. “It was nice to get the first one out of the way. You don’t want to sit on a bagel with a new team for too long. I appreciate the good bounce there.”
Mrazek finished with 22 saves.
Jones’ slot backhand tip 37 seconds after the opening faceoff put the Blackhawks ahead 1-0. Andreas Athanasiou picked up his 100th career assist on the goal.
Nashville tied it on Tomasino’s power-play goal at 9:36. Mrazek gave up a big rebound on Yakov Trenin’s shot and Tomasino had an open net.
“The first part of the first two periods, we played better, and then we dropped (off),” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “A couple penalties slowed us down a bit and we seemed to be a bit too much in the D zone."
Richardson said the Blackhawks are "still trying to find ourselves” after the team’s roster shuffling leading up to the trade deadline.
“There are so many new guys,” added forward Lukas Reichel, who played his fifth NHL game. "In the second period, we played a lot in our own zone. If we do a better job, it’s easier to create offense.” Saros made a big save on Jones’ drive from the point with 59 seconds left, and Sissons sealed the win for Nashville with an empty-net goal with 30 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t get off to a great start, but we managed the puck better in the second and third periods,” Hynes said. “We didn’t have a ton of emotion to start, but we worked (and) controlled what we could control.”
The Predators featured only one new player in their lineup on Saturday. Center Rasmus Asplund, acquired from Buffalo on Friday, played his first game for Nashville.
Along with Barrie, defenseman Cal Foote and left wing John Leonard played their second games for Nashville.
The Blackhawks, after making nine deals before the deadline — notably sending away Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Sam Lafferty and Jake McCabe — had two players in their first game for Chicago: Zaitsev and left wing Anders Bjork.
Nashville: at Vancouver on Monday.
Chicago: host Ottawa on Monday.
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