Even with their top point producer sidelined by an injury, the Nashville Predators had plenty of offense. And they had Pekka Rinne in goal Sunday night. That combination helped them rout the Blackhawks 6-1 and move into fourth place in the Western Conference.The victory gave the Predators 96 points, one more than Detroit and four more than the sixth-place Blackhawks, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. It also gave Nashville a 4-0-1 record against the Hawks this season.Nashville’s Martin Erat, who has tied a career high with 57 points, was scratched because of an injury after logging 19 minutes Saturday night in a win over Winnipeg. The Blackhawks played their first game without suspended Duncan Keith who got five games for elbowing Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin in the head in the Blackhawks’ previous game Wednesday night.Matt Halischuk, Andrei Kostitsyn, Patric Hornqvist, Francis Bouillon, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher scored for the Predators, who matched their season high with the six goals. Viktor Stalberg had the Hawks lone score.Halischuk scored from the slot at 6:16 of the first, a goal set up by some nice passing behind the net by Brandon Yip and Paul Gaustad.Later in the period, Kositsyn’s shot from high in the left circle sailed over Corey Crawford’s blocker and into the net, giving the Preds a 2-0 lead.Rinne had 11 first-period saves, three early in the game, and helped turn away two Blackhawks power plays to set the tone. They were was 0 for 4 on the power play without getting off a shot. Hornqvist was credited with a deflection goal on the power play when Weber’s hard shot from the high slot broke the stick of Marian Hossa, went off Alexander Radulov’s skate and trickled past Crawford for a 3-0 lead in the second. The goal was upheld by video replay. And after Bouillon’s long wrister from way out on the left boards eluded a screened Crawford two minutes into the final period to make it 4-0, Crawford was pulled in favor of Ray Emery. Crawford gave up four goals on just 15 shots.
“That wasn’t our team. That wasn’t me,” said Crawford, who’d won five straight. “Just got to forget about it plain and simple. …. It seemed like everything wasn’t going our way.”
Four minutes later, right after a Hawk power play ended, Stalberg scored from the left circle, ending Rinne’s shutout bid. But 36 seconds later, immediately after a faceoff, Weber rifled in a shot past Emery to restore Nashville’s four-goal lead. Fisher scored with 2:27 left.
NOTES—Former Blackhawks G Ed Belfour was honored by the team. He spent parts of eight seasons with the Hawks during a 20-year NHL career and had a Blackhawks’ franchise-record 43 wins in 1990-91, his first full NHL season. His play helped the Blackhawks make the Stanley Cup finals in 1992. He also played for San Jose, Dallas, Toronto and Florida and was inducted into the Hall of Fame last November. He finished with a 484-320-125 record….The Preds’ Jordin Tootoo, who was involved in a fight with Brandon Bolllig early in the game, didn’t return after the altercation in which he was knocked to the ice…..Jonathan Toews missed his 16th straight game with a concussion.