Nashville Predators defenseman Kevin Klein (8) checks Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) to the ice after goalie Pekka Rinne (35) blocked Hossa's shot, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, in Chicago. The Predators won 3-1. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Pekka Rinne made 24 saves for his ninth straight win and the surging Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 Tuesday night in the teams' final game before the All-Star break.
The Predators are now 12-2 in their last 14 and have beaten the Blackhawks twice in the last four days. Rinne has played a major role in the run, going 12-1-0 since Dec. 28.
Craig Smith and Mike Fisher had first-period goals for the Predators and Colin Wilson added an empty netter with 12.8 seconds left . Dave Bolland had Chicago's goal on a power play in the final period.
After Bolland scored on a nice pass from Marian Hossa at 7:20 of the final period, Rinne faced two more power plays and the Preds were able to hold off the Hawks.
Chicago played without captain Jonathan Toews, who was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury and will also miss this weekend's All-Star game. The Blackhawks, who lost 5-2 to the Predators in Nashville on Saturday night, are also without injured Patrick Sharp.
The Blackhawks, now 19-6-4 at home, won't be back at the United Center until Feb. 19 — they have a nine-game road trip after the All-Star break.
The Blackhawks had trouble mustering offense against Rinne, but it was some shaky play on the defensive end that helped the Preds get a pair of first-period goals.
The Hawks failed to clear the puck, Smith retrieved it in the left circle, whirled around and shot it past Corey Crawford for a 1-0 lead in the first.
Patric Hornqvist later outscrapped Chicago's Nick Leddy for a puck behind the net and got it to Fisher, who scored from in close to put the Predators up 2-0 with just more than two minutes left in the first period.
Crawford, who'd been pulled in Saturday night's loss, was so frustrated by Fisher's score that he slammed his stick and broke it over the goal.