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Blackhawks bounce back to pummel Predators

3/28/2003

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Blackhawks were in complete control
against the Nashville Predators two days after their worst loss of
the season.

The Blackhawks recovered from a rout at the hands of the New
York Islanders and beat the Predators 4-1 Thursday night.

Chicago lost 9-2 on Tuesday, but built an early lead against Nashville and never looked back to snap a four-game winless streak. Andrei Nikolishin and Steve Sullivan each had a goal and an assist. Chris Simon and Mark Bell also scored for the Blackhawks, who won for only the seventh time in 32 games (7-20-3-2).

"It was definitely better as a team,'' said Steve Passmore, who stopped 22 shots to win for the second time in 10 games this season. "Every guy to a man was better. We had a little talk about it and a gut check.

"Playing with a lead was great. We haven't done that a whole
lot lately. It's a lot easier for a goalie.''

Although Passmore wasn't tested heavily, he had to be sharp through nine Nashville power plays. The Blackhawks killed all of them.

"Passy was our No. 1 penalty killer tonight,'' Sullivan said.
"He was alert to everything and had to make some good saves.''

Clarke Wilm scored for Predators, whose winless slide reached 10 (0-6-3-1). Nashville played for the first time since being eliminated from the playoffs on Wednesday when Edmonton clinched the final berth in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks were eliminated Sunday.

"It's extremely frustrating because this team has a lot more
than it's shown the last couple of games,'' Predators coach Barry
Trotz said. "It doesn't matter what you do, everything starts with
the basic, sort of the atom of hockey: the one-on-one play. Too
many guys are losing too many battles.''

Nashville's Tomas Vokoun also stopped 22 shots.

Nikolishin opened the scoring at 9:09 of the first period when
he got past Nashville defenseman Andy Delmore and cut to the net.

Simon made it 2-0 with 5:37 left in the first on a one-timer from the left circle. Set up by Nikolishin, Simon beat Vokoun on the glove side.

Wilm cut it to 2-1 just 2:05 in by deflecting in Cale Hulse's shot from the point.

Bell made it 3-1 at 5:37 when he got behind the Nashville
defense, picked up a loose puck, and broke in alone.

Sullivan's short-handed goal at 6:40 of the third made it 4-1.
After making a move around Delmore in the slot, Sullivan was
stopped once by Vokoun before converting his own rebound.

Game notes
Chicago G Jocelyn Thibault missed his fourth game because
of a concussion. ... Chicago RW Theo Fleury had only 10 minutes, 28
seconds of ice time. ... Sullivan's goal his 150th in the NHL. ...
The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs five of the last six years.
... The Predators have never qualified for the postseason in their
five-year history. ... The Predators held a 20-minute, closed-door
meeting after the game. "I did the talking. They sat and
listened,'' Trotz said. "I aired it out.''