Predators beat Chicago in shootout, clinch playoffs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Nashville Predators finally know
what it feels like to clinch a playoff berth by themselves.

Paul Kariya scored in the second round of a shootout, and the
Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 on Saturday night to
cinch the franchise's second straight playoff berth. This one, they
did themselves after last clinching when Vancouver beat Edmonton at
the end of last season.

"Not relying on someone else to do it is the most satisfying
part I think," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We just got it
done ourselves tonight."

The Predators had lost six of their last eight before their
matchup with Chicago. It looked like they would have to hope
Calgary beat Vancouver later Saturday to cinch that berth as
Blackhawks goalie Craig Anderson protected a 1-0 lead for the first
56 minutes.

But Mark Eaton finally tied it with 3:58 left in regulation with
a one-timer near the blue line through traffic that went beat
Anderson over his glove.

Duncan Keith gave the Predators a chance to avoid overtime when
he drew a double minor for high sticking Jerred Smithson with 1:37
to go but the Predators couldn't convert. Nashville outshot Chicago
43-24 in regulation and overtime.

"Anderson stood on his head tonight," Trotz said.

The Predators improved to 6-3 in shootouts as goalie Chris
Mason, making his fourth straight start in place of Tomas Vokoun,
stopped Matthew Barnaby with a pad save and then gloved a shot by
Patrick Sharp.

Mason said it was cool but tough to be in goal for his eighth
victory this season.

"We had Tomas here all year, and ... basically a lot of nights
he singlehandedly won us hockey games and he put us in position to
get where we are. I'm happy to be it. But I'm helping finishing
what he did all year kind of thing," Mason said.

Martin Erat scored on the first try for Nashville, bouncing the
puck off Anderson before it trickled over the line. Kariya, who now
has five goals in seven shootout attempts, won the game by beating
the goalie to the glove side.

He headed to the locker room instead of celebrating with his
teammates on the ice. He said he wasn't thinking of clinching a
playoff spot.

"No, just trying to make a good shot, concentrate on what the
goalie was doing," Kariya said.

The Blackhawks dropped their 27th one-goal game this season.

"Seen a lot of those," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said.

Chicago's James Wisniewski scored his second goal this season at
2:20 of the first period.

Nashville has won six of its last eight games against its
Central Division rival, and got some revenge for a 4-3 loss in
Chicago on Wednesday night. The Predators now have 98 points and a
four-point lead over Anaheim for fourth-place in the Western
Conference and home-ice advantage.

"Our job is far from over," Eaton said. "The last season, we
were just happy to get in. Now we still have four games ahead of
us. Our goal is home-ice, so a lot of work to be done. Anaheim's
not losing, so if we have to win out, that's good for us."

Chicago now has lost six straight in Nashville and four of its
last five overall.

"We got a lot of young guys, a lot of guys that are playing for
jobs," Anderson said.

Game notes
The Predators had a moment of silence before the opening
faceoff for the 36 Tennesseans killed by tornadoes within the past
six days, including 12 on Friday near Nashville. ... Nashville has
not allowed a power-play goal in four straight games, going
22-of-22. ... Vokoun remains day-to-day with a sore back.
Second-leading scorer Steve Sullivan missed his fifth game with a
groin injury.