By JIM DIAMOND
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
Eeli Tolvanen, Roman Josi and Matt Duchene also scored and Juuse Saros made 28 saves for Nashville, winners of two of three. Filip Forsberg had two assists. The Predators entered Saturday in the top wild card spot in the tight Western Conference race for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“We’re in the most competitive time of the season and a really extremely competitive playoff race, so I think that’s why we all do this, is to be in situations where you are able to compete in high-stakes games with a lot on the line,” Nashville coach John Hynes said.
Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, Dominik Kubalik and Riley Stillman also scored, and Kevin Lankinen made 30 saves for Chicago, losers of nine of 10. Alex DeBrincat had two assists.
Granlund scored his 10th goal of the season at 3:14 of the third, and that proved to be the game-winner, with Stillman responding for Chicago with 5:29 remaining.
“This time of year, the only thing you really care about is those two points and we found a way,” Granlund said.
Tolvanen scored the game’s first goal at 3:22 of the opening period, beating Lankinen high to the glove side from the left circle.
Kane tied it at 7:31 of the first.
From inside the Chicago zone, DeBrincat sent Kane and Dylan Strome away on a 2-on-1 rush with a breakout pass to Strome. Strome found Kane on the right side, where he beat Saros with a wrist shot between the pads. The assist was DeBrincat’s 300th career point.
“I thought it wasn’t the best game for our line,” Kane said. “But you know, we cashed in on a couple chances and like I said, they’re a tough team to play against. They play well defensively.”
Kubalik gave Chicago a brief 2-1 lead at 5:15 of the second., but Josi answered 43 seconds later to tie it with the teams skating 4-on-4, notching his 20th goal of the season.
“We knew if we played our style, played the right way, we were going to get some goals and we did tonight,” Josi said. “Big win for us.”
Duchene sent Nashville into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead when he connected off a Granlund pass with 25.3 seconds remaining in the period and the Predators on a power play. It was Granlund’s 300th career assist.
The Predators have earned at least one point in 14 consecutive games played against Chicago, going 11-0-3 in a stretch that began Jan. 9, 2020.
Josi appeared to score again just a minute after his first goal, but Chicago challenged the play was offside and the goal was overturned on video review, which determined that Duchene preceded the puck across the blue line. Nashville has had goals called back in three straight games due to an opponent’s challenge for plays being offside.
Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon was injured early in the first period of the game. In the Chicago zone, Lauzon was hit by Blackhawks defenseman Alex Vlasic. Lauzon fell awkwardly to the ice, with his left leg bending underneath him. Play was halted and Lauzon was tended to by the Predators' medical staff. He was helped off the ice by a pair of teammates and did not put any weight on his left leg.
Lauzon did not return to the game. He played just one shift, seeing 33 seconds of ice time before the injury. The team did not have an update on him after the game.
Predators: Host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
Blackhawks: Host the Calgary Flames on Monday.
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