CHICAGO – Dan Ellis saw a lot of shots, and got plenty of support from his teammates.
Ellis made 34 saves, and Dan Hamhuis, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo each had a goal and an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-1 win over Chicago on Friday night, snapping the Blackhawks’ eight-game home winning streak.
Ellis, making just his second start in Nashville’s last 12 games, was busiest in the first period when Chicago had 15 shots. Jonathan Toews scored midway through the period following a flashy stickhandling move.
“The ‘D’ did an awesome job of letting me see the puck,” Ellis said. “It was a big game for us. We hung on until the end, got a big penalty kill and some goals to relieve the pressure.”
Joel Ward also scored for the Predators.
Nashville was clinging to a 2-1 lead until goals by Tootoo and Ward 35 seconds apart late in the third period sealed it.
“Ellie played real well tonight,” Tootoo said. “They took it to us with some excellent chances and he held us in. We had to be strong defensively.”
For much of the game, however, Chicago wasn’t able to generate many close chances and even fewer rebounds. When the Blackhawks did break through, they misfired or Ellis stopped them.
“We were trying to get some pucks to the net and hopefully get some rebounds,” Chicago’s Brian Campbell said. “We couldn’t find a way to get there tonight.”
Cristobal Huet made 19 saves for the Blackhawks.
“They (the Predators) checked well and they deserved the win,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a lot more pucks at net early in the game and then we started to get to cute and the puck wasn’t very friendly with us tonight.”
Nashville, 13-4-1 in its last 18, closed to three points behind first-place Chicago in the Central Division. The Blackhawks are 9-2-1 in their last 12.
Toews, who a agreed to a US$31.5 million, five-year contract extension on Thursday, opened the scoring midway through the first to cap a standout individual effort. After taking a pass at full speed at centre ice, Toews streaked down the Nashville slot, beat Hamhuis with a stickhandling move and tucked a low shot past Ellis’ outstretched right pad.
“Tonight we tried to overdo some things, especially after Jonathan scored,” Campbell said. “We maybe thought it was going to come easy and that doesn’t happen in this league.”
Hamhuis tied it 1-1 with 2:56 left in the period. His screened shot from the outer edge of the right circle slipped past Huet on the glove side.
Erat was credited with a deflected goal at 7:01 of the second that withstood a video review to put Nashville ahead 2-1. Tootoo turned and fired a shot from the left circle, and the puck banked in off Erat’s left skate after he stopped at the edge of the crease.
The Blackhawks offence picked up again late in the third to generate several prime chances. Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane misfired, however, on two of the best opportunities.
Tootoo and Ward scored late in the third period to break it open.
Tootoo connected from the slot with 2:03 left, then Ward was set up by Dave Legwand at the edge of the crease with 1:28 remaining.
NOTES: Nashville C Dave Scatchard missed his third game with an upper-body injury. … Chicago D Jordan Hendry and Nashville RW Wade Belak were healthy scratches. … The crowd of 20,887 was the Blackhawks’ 65th straight sellout at the United Center.