Nashville 5, Chicago 4 (ot)

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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (TICKER) —The Nashville Predators are a legitimate threat to make the postseason for the first time in club history.

Scott Walker scored off a scramble 2:49 into overtime as the red-hot Predators extended their winning streak to four games with a 5-4 victory over the slumping Chicago Blackhawks.

Blackhawks defenseman Nathan Dempsey tried to swat the puck out of mid-air with his glove but missed. The puck landed on the stick of Walker, who pushed it past goaltender Jocelyn Thibault to give the Predators their latest win.

“Harts (Scott Hartnell) took it to the net hard, he flung it out front, I hit it once and it of went up into the air,” Walker said. “And I just hit into the net. Obviously, it wasn’t pretty, but we will take it.”

“That was an outstanding play. That goal was made by Scott Hartnell,” said Nashville’s Barry Trotz, who set an NHL record by coaching his 392nd game since the inception of the franchise.

David Legwand and Kimmo Timonen each had two assists for Nashville, which has won eight of its last nine games to pull within three points of Edmonton for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.

The Predators never have made the playoffs since entering the league in 1998-99, but this was their team-record seventh straight home win.

Chris Simon and Alexei Zhamnov scored in a three-goal second period for the reeling Blackhawks, who have lost six straight and nine of their last 10 games.

“It was a quick game,” said Chicago coach Brian Sutter, whose team trails Edmonton by six points. “They are playing with a lot of confidence.”

Nashville grabbed the lead 8:15 into the opening period when Vitali Yachmenev scored with both teams down a man.

“It was a great shot by Greg Johnson and the puck came right to my stick,” Yachmenev said. “I was pretty proud of myself because it was such a tough angle.”

“Rebounds just went right on their sticks,” said Thibault, who made 28 saves.

Defenseman Lyle Odelein tied it three minutes later with his sixth goal, ending goalie Tomas Vokoun’s shutout streak at 135 minutes, 46 seconds.

But Clarke Wilm put Nashville back on top with 71 seconds to go in the period. Defenseman Cale Hulse started the play inside his own blue line with a diving pokecheck on Theo Fleury.

The Blackhawks came roaring back in the second period, getting goals from Chris Simon, Alex Zhamnov and Steve Thomas.

But defenseman Andy Delmore and Rem Murray answered on the power play for Nashville, which forged a 4-4 tie in the final second of the period.

With time winding down, David Legwand let go a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. Thibault made the save, but the rebound trickled to the left of the net. Murray skated in and put in the puck just as the horn sounded.

The goal withstood a review by the video replay official.

“I had no idea (it went in) until I got back to the bench,” Murray said. “The crowd was so loud, I didn’t hear the buzzer at all.”

The power play was set up by a slashing penalty on Zhamnov at 18:43 of the second. After Vokoun covered a loose puck, Zhamnov spun and delivered a two-hand slash to Murray.

Vokoun made 27 saves en route to his 24th win. He struggled at times but made his best save with 30 seconds left in regulation on a shot by Steve Sullivan.

“That was a big save, it could have made the difference whether we won or lost,” Vokoun said. “I didn’t have my best game today, but we won anyway,”

Legwand suffered a broken collarbone in the third period and will be sidelined at least a month.

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