David Legwand scored three goals and assisted on another and the Nashville Predators beat Chicago 6-3 to send the Blackhawks into the all-star break with a nine-game losing streak.
Legwand completed his first career hat trick with an empty-net goal that also gave him the franchise lead with 97, passing Scott Walker.
“Legwand played a terrific game,” said Paul Kariya, one of his linemates. “He is one of the most effortless skaters I have ever seen. He has all the skills in the world. It is just a matter of him being consistent night-in and night-out in delivering those skills.”
Martin Erat, J.P. Dumont and Kimmo Timonen also scored for Nashville.
“Three goals is three goals and you move on from there,” Legwand said. “It’s nice to get three anytime that you can. Going into the game two goals behind I wasn’t expecting to get the franchise record for goals in one game. I’m getting pucks in the back of the nets and that is always fun.”
Nashville, which has won six straight games on home ice, heads into the all-star break with a league-high 34 wins and the top spot in points in the Western Conference with 71.
“Our guys showed a lot of character and toughness in this game, but what gets overlooked is we played six games in nine nights against some pretty good opponents and we finished 5-1,” coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s pretty strong. We have other goals in mind, but it is a good feeling to be where we’re sitting today at the all-star break.”
Martin Havlat, Craig MacDonald and Duncan Keith scored for Chicago.
The first period was a flurry of scoring. Nashville started it off when Legwand shot the puck across the goal mouth from the left side and Erat put it in off Nikolai Khabibulin’s left pad at 7:14. Twenty seconds later, Dumont gave Nashville a 2-0 lead when he beat Khabibulin to the glove side.
Chicago answered with a pair of goals.
“I knew that Chicago was going to come out and be real hard and fast,” Trotz said. “They’re trying to get a real gorilla off of their back right now.”
Havlat scored on the power play at 9:37 when he took a wrist shot from low in the right circle.
“We had some bad bounces in this game and that didn’t help us,” Havlat said. “But everybody was working hard and that was the most important thing.”
Nine seconds later the game was tied when Mason wandered away from the net to make a pass. MacDonald got control of the puck above the right circle and fired a one-timer into an open net.
“I made a terrible play and it kind of gave Chicago momentum,” Mason said. “Legwand told me he was going to get me that goal back. I didn’t think he was going to get three.”
Legwand’s first goal came at 15:08 of the second period. Erat took a shot that bounced off Khabibulin and went around the back of the net. Legwand was stationed at the left post and shovelled the puck into the net as Khabibulin was out of position.
Keith scored his first goal of the season at 1:39 of the third period when he fired a wrist shot that beat Mason to his stick side.
At 8:01 of the third, Legwand shot a rebound past Khabibulin from close range.
Timonen scored Nashville’s fifth goal at 18:01 of the third period and Legwand completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 19:22.
“I asked our guys to do a few things in this game,” Trotz said. “First, I wanted them to have good focus. I wanted them to get to Khabibulin. And No. 3. we couldn’t be outworked. In the end we met all three of those criteria.”
Notes: Keith ended a 54-game scoreless streak, dating back to April 5, 2006. Erat has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last seven games. … Nashville has scored in the first period in 12 straight games with 22 goals. … Chicago has the worst power play in the NHL, but scored one goal with the man-advantage against Nashville.