Chicago 4, Nashville 1

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CHICAGO (TICKER) Steve Sullivan has been one of the few things Chicago Blackhawks’ fans have had to cheer about this season.

Sullivan scored in the third period and added an assist as the Blackhawks kept the Nashville Predators reeling with a 4-1 victory.

The Blackhawks have been eliminated from postseason contention, but Sullivan leads the team with 25 goals and ranks second with 32 assists.

In this one, he helped set up Chris Simon’s 10th goal with 6:37 left in the first period that made it 2-0, then capped the scoring 6:40 into the third with a shorthanded tally.

Sullivan got the puck from Alex Zhamnov at the Predators’ blue line, deked around defenseman Andy Delmore in the slot and pushed a shot past goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

“It was just a case where two guys went to Alex on the side boards,” Sullivan said. “So I went for the puck and then took off for the goal. As I went to the goal and made a move, I was able to come back and beat the goalie 1-on-1.”

Sullivan was held without a point in his first six games following the All-Star break. But he has 11 goals and 14 assists in his last 18 games.

Andrei Nikolishin and Mark Bell had the other goals for Chicago, which was outscored, 17-3, in its previous two losses and won for just the eighth time in 31 games (8-20-3).

Coming off an embarrassing 9-2 home defeat to the New York Islanders, the Blackhawks took their first two-goal lead through one period since November 17.

“We were obviously better defensively, especially early in the hockey game,” Chicago coach Brian Sutter said. “We established a forecheck early, and that’s how we scored the first couple of goals.”

“It was important to set the tone early as we were embarrassed the other night,” Simon added. “As an organization, we owe it to our fans to play hard for our last five games. And it’s always fun to win.”

Clarke Wilm had the lone tally for Nashville, which went 0-for-9 on the power play as its team-record winless streak hit 10 games (0-6-3-1).

Following the game, Predators coach Barry Trotz held a lengthy team meeting.

“I aired it out in there,” Trotz said. “I put it back in their lap, but it’s not all them. It’s not just them, it’s me, it’s us. We got things we want to accomplish. We’ve talked about that and what the legacy of this team is going to be. This team has a lot of character and they’ve come back this year. But there’s 82 games to play and it’s very frustrating to have fallen back to where we are.”

“We can’t be happy with how we have been playing lately,” Vokoun added. “We have to play hard for 82 games. But it’s been tough lately because we were close to the playoffs and now we’re out.”

Before being beaten by Sullivan, Delmore was victimized by Nikolishin, who scored on a breakaway.

Nikolishin also set up Simon’s tally, leaving a centering pass for him to one-time past Vokoun.

Wilm deflected defenseman Cale Hulse’s point shot 2:05 into the second, but Bell beat Vokoun on a breakaway less than 3 1/2 minutes later for his 13th goal.

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Goalie Team Shot Save
Tomas Vokoun Pit 26 22