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Saturday, April 12, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Predators 7, Blackhawks 5

By Jim Diamond
Special to ESPNChicago.com



NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 7-5 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

How it happened: One night after being shutout in Washington, the Blackhawks got off to a fast start Saturday, striking first 4:11 into the game on a Ben Smith wrist shot. His goal was followed up by Marian Hossa’s 30th score of the season at 12:43 of the first. But Nashville’s Craig Smith answered just 14 seconds later. Ryan Ellis tied it for at 6:32 of the second, before Matt Carey’s first NHL goal put Chicago in front again. Nashville again tied it at 4:03 of the third off the stick of Matt Cullen, and then took their first lead of the game at 7:05 on Colin Wilson’s goal. That lead was short lived, as Jeremy Morin’s tough-angle bank shot off of Rinne 55 seconds later tied things again. Paul Gaustad put Nashville in front at 17:05, but Andrew Shaw drew Chicago even again at 18:25. Patric Hornqvist got the winner with 58.2 remaining. Shea Weber's empty-netter with 14 seconds remaining accounted for the final margin.

What it means: In the grand scheme of things, the game did not have any impact on Chicago’s spot in the Central Division’s standings. They already were locked into third heading into the playoffs, which will start later this week. The Blackhawks will have to wait until tomorrow to see who they will face in the first round. The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues are tied atop the Central with 111 points apiece. Each plays its final game of the regular season Sunday, and Chicago will face whichever team finishes second in the division. Should the teams end up tied in points, Colorado has the first tiebreaker, which is more regulation and overtime wins.

Player of the game: Brandon Saad had two assists, including a nifty drop pass to Smith on the game’s first goal. Saad had not recorded a point in his last three games played and was a healthy scratch Sunday against St. Louis.

Stat of the game: On a night when the Blackhawks struggled in the faceoff circle, Peter Regin won nine of his 13 draws.

What’s next: The start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Blackhawks do not know which team they will be facing in round one yet, but they do know that they will start on the road against either Colorado or St. Louis. Both teams’ arenas are booked for Wednesday night, so Thursday looks to be the night for the Blackhawks’ playoff opener.