NASHVILLE - This time, the Chicago Blackhawks made life difficult on Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators.
Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, and the Blackhawks pounded the Predators 7-2 on Saturday night for their third straight victory.
Robin Lehner made 39 saves for Chicago, and Alex Nylander had two goals in the third period. Erik Gustafsson, Dominik Kubalik, Brent Seabrook and David Kampf also scored.
The Blackhawks improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games. It was a markedly different performance than their first meeting with Nashville this season, a dominant 3-0 win for the Predators on Oct. 29 that Rinne called one of his easier shutouts.
“We’re winning, it’s nice,” Lehner said. “It was a nice win, a nice bounce back. It kind of shows the progress we’ve made since the last time we were here.”
Nashville got two goals from defenceman Roman Josi in its fourth consecutive loss. Rinne allowed four goals in 14 shots before he was replaced by Juuse Saros.
“There’s a lot of things we didn’t do right, especially defensively,” Josi said. “We had our chances, but like I said, it wasn’t a good game at all.”
The Predators have allowed 22 goals in their four-game slide.
“You’re pressing in the first period and then you find yourself chasing the game,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
Kane’s third-period goal extended his goal-scoring streak to five games and his point streak to eight.
The Blackhawks grabbed control with two in the first and second periods.
“It was a good response tonight,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We knew coming into this rink it was going to be a test for us and we wanted to respond and show that wasn't our team the last time we were here. I thought we did that."
Gustafsson beat Rinne with a wrist shot through traffic 6:33 into the first.
“I was trying to get the puck to the net,” Gustafsson said. “Luckily, today there was two, three screens before it went into the net. It was good to see it go in there.”
After Nashville defenceman Matt Irwin turned the puck over in the right corner, Kirby Dach found Kubalik all alone in front for his fifth goal with 1:56 left in the opening period.
Chicago kept the pressure on in the second. Seabrook handcuffed Rinne with a backhand from the high slot at 1:51, and Kampf chased Rinne with a slap shot from the slot at 11:39 after a nifty passing sequence.
It was the second time in just over a week that Rinne was yanked from the net. In Nashville’s Nov. 7 blowout loss at Colorado, Rinne was pulled in the second after allowing four goals on 23 shots.
Josi ended Lehner’s shutout bid 3:40 into the third when he knocked in the rebound of a Matt Duchene shot.
NOTES: Chicago is 7-1-3 when scoring first this season. ... With an assist on Kane’s goal, Chicago RW Alex DeBrincat extended his assist streak to three games. ... Kane has 59 points in 63 career regular-season games against Nashville.
Blackhawks: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Predators: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
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