By Chris Block
The Blackhawks kept the recent string of dominance over their top competition in the West on Saturday. Chicago skated through Music City taking a 3-1 victory from the Nashville Predators before the typical Blackhawks fan-laden crowd at Bridgestone Arena.
Brandon Saad was the offensive darling of the night, scoring his 6th of the season in the first period to get the Hawks going. Saad then set up Marian Hossa for an easy goal in the second that proved to be the game-winner. Starter Scott Darling and the Hawks withstood a strong third period Predators pushback to preserve the win.
Darling stopped 32 of 33 shots in earning his 3rd win in 4 NHL starts. Pekka Rinne made 28 saves against 30 shots in taking the loss. Hossa potted an empty-netter with 1:11 to go to seal the win. Hossa had just 1 goal in his previous 16 games going into Saturday night in Nashville.
Chicago (18-8-1, 37pts, .685) jumped over Nashville (17-7-2, 36pts) and into 1st place in the Central with the victory, though the Predators do have a game in hand and own a better points-earned percentage (.692) still. It caps a week that saw the Hawks pass the Preds and Blues in the standings both by head-to-head wins as well as beating Montreal, one of the top teams in the East right now as well.