Roman Josi scored with 6:33 left in the third period and the surging Nashville Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night for their fifth straight victory.
Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok scored on fluky plays in the first period for Nashville, which won for the seventh time in eight games and moved into a tie with Chicago for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. Pekka Rinne stopped 27 shots.
The Predators had to bounce back late in this one to sweep a two-game set in Chicago after the Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat scored two goals 1:50 apart in the third period to tie the score at 2. Malcolm Subban finished with 28 saves.
“That wasn’t the prettiest game, but we found a way to win and that’s the important thing,” Josi said. “It’s huge for us and gives us a lot of energy.”
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Predators coach John Hynes said his team is building an “identity” based on defense and tight-checking.
“Right now there’s a lot of consistency in how we want to play,” Hynes said. “We have the commitment we need for success.”
On the tiebreaking goal, Josi skated in and beat Subban from the slot after taking a feed from Eeli Tolvanen to cap a pretty passing series after Chicago’s Kirby Dach turned the puck over in his own zone.
The 20-year-old Dach, who played in just his second game after returning from a broken wrist, threw the puck on to the stick of Nashville’s Ryan Johansen near the Chicago blue line.
“We had some time and space,” Josi said. “There were a lot of nice passes and I just kind of walked in. I was thinking lower blocker and it went (off the left) post and in.”
Chicago, which dropped its second game in two nights to the Predators, has lost six of eight. The Blackhawks were limited once again for most of the game by defense-minded Nashville, which won 3-1 on Saturday.
With Nashville ahead 2-0, DeBrincat got Chicago on the board at 7:35 of the third when he whipped in a one-timer from the right circle after Rinne had lost his stick. Patrick Kane’s pinpoint cross-ice pass set it up.
DeBrincat tied it with his 18th goal at 9:25. He sped around defenseman Dante Fabbro, cut across the crease and tucked in a shot to cap a nifty play.
“Those are games we’re going to have to win down the stretch to make it to the playoffs,” DeBrincat said. “We did a good job of coming back, but we’ve got to stick with it.”
The 38-year-old Rinne, Nashville’s longtime No. 1 goalie, started for just the second time in seven games. The Predators’ other goalie, Juuse Saros, was held out with an unspecified injury. He has gone 4-1-0 with a 0.81 goals against average and .977 save percentage in his last five games to backstop the their climb.
Nashville led 2-0 after the first period on goals that deflected in off skates.
Arvidsson was credited with opening the scoring 4:43 in. He jumped on a loose puck behind the net after Subban couldn’t handle it. The puck ticked of defenseman Calvin de Haan’s skate and into the net.
Jarnkrok made it 2-0 with his 10th goal with 1:30 left in the period. Mattias Ekholm circled behind the net, spun and fired from the left circle The puck caromed in off Jarnrkok’s foot at the edge of the crease as de Haan tried to tie him up.
Nashville improved to 4-0 against Chicago this season. The Preds’ first two wins, in Nashville in January, were in overtime and a shootout.
Rinne’s 368 wins are the most for any Finnish goalie. The 2018 Vezina Trophy winner has played his entire NHL career with Nashville. He made his NHL debut and earned his first career victory on Dec. 15, 2005, versus Chicago.
He scored a goal against the Blackhawks last season, firing a 185-foot shot into an empty net to cap a 5-2 win at Chicago on Jan. 9, 2020.
Blackhawks C Dylan Strome didn’t play because of the birth of his first child.
Nashville F Filip Forsberg missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. After the game, Hynes didn’t have an update on Saros. Kasimir Kaskisuo dressed in his place.
Predators: Host Dallas on Tuesday in the first of a two-game series.
Blackhawks: Host Carolina on Tuesday in the first of a two-game set.