Brandon Saad’s OT Goal Lifts Blackhawks Over Predators, 2-1

CHICAGO (AP) — This time, the Chicago Blackhawks made a big play at a key moment against the Nashville Predators.

Brandon Saad scored his sixth goal 3:05 into overtime, and the Blackhawks beat the Predators, 2-1, on Saturday night in their first meeting since last year’s playoffs.

Saad beat Pekka Rinne with a one-timed deflection as he cut across the crease from the left side, making the most of a pinpoint cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane.

“It always feels nice to contribute to wins,” Saad said. “It was just a great pass. I hopped on the ice, and Kaner makes a great tic-tac-toe play.”

Corey Crawford had 37 saves for Chicago, which wasted six power-play chances. The Blackhawks were swept by the Predators in the first round of the postseason last April.

“It’s a big win against them,” Crawford said. “It’s kind of nice to beat them from last year, but it’s a new season.

“They’re a tough team to play against.”

Patrick Sharp scored with 5:36 left in the third period, spoiling Rinne’s shutout bid and sending the game to overtime.

“I think it was just tough sledding out there,” Sharp said. “That’s a well-coached team, pretty disciplined through the neutral zone.

“We had to kind of grind it out a little bit.”

After Cody Franson held in a Nashville clearing attempt on the right boards, the puck bounded to rookie John Hayden. He fed Sharp to the right off the crease and the veteran forward beat Rinne with a backhander on Chicago’s 26th shot.

Filip Forsberg scored a power-play goal late in the second period for Nashville. It was his fifth goal in five games.

The Predators picked up right where they left in the playoffs last year, shutting down Chicago’s high-scoring attack. The Predators outscored the Blackhawks 13-3 in their playoff sweep in their first step on the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Rinne made 33 saves Saturday night, but wasn’t tested until late.

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette thought one goal was going be enough for his team.

“It should have been a shutout,” Laviolette said. “It should have been 1-0 and we should have been out of here.

“I thought the guys were right money tonight with decisions and speed and the game plan. We did a lot of good things.”

The Predators played with a shuffled defense with Roman Josi and Yannick Weber out with short-term injuries. Ryan Ellis is sidelined until December following offseason knee surgery.

Nashville dominated a scoreless first period while giving Chicago limited space. The Predators kept up their close checking in the second and jumped in front on Forsberg’s goal on their 29th shot with 1:44 left in the period.

P.K. Subban slid a low shot from the top of the slot through traffic toward Crawford. Scott Hartnell, parked in front in the crease, deflected the puck to the left side of the net and a wide-open Forsberg, who picked up his fourth goal in three games.

Chicago’s Ryan Hartman shot wide on a breakaway at 8:32 of the second. Crawford stopped Viktor Arvidsson, alone at the edge of the crease with 30 second left in the period, to keep it at 1-0.

NOTES: Josi missed his third game (upper body). Weber sat out his first after taking a high hit on Thursday versus Dallas. … D Anthony Bitetto jumped in for his second game this season. … Nashville C Nick Bonino didn’t play in the third period, but Laviolette didn’t have an injury report postgame. … Chicago C Nick Schmaltz missed his fourth game (upper body), but coach Joel Quenneville said the forward is close to returning. … Chicago D Connor Murphy was a scratch for the second time in three games.

UP NEXT

Predators: Host Colorado on Tuesday.

Blackhawks: At St. Louis on Wednesday.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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