CHICAGO - Marian Hossa's power-play slap shot 52 seconds into overtime proved to be the game-winner as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 5-4 on Friday.
Hossa received a perfect pass through the crease from Patrick Kane, who got the assist along with Duncan Keith, and pushed a 25-foot tally past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.
With Nashville's Rich Clune sent to the penalty box for four minutes for high sticking with 45 seconds left in regulation, it looked like Chicago might wrap things up before the final buzzer.
That was easier said than done, though, as Nashville's defense rose to the task, forcing the game into overtime.
But what the Blackhawks weren't able to do in the first three periods, they did so fairly quickly in the extra period with Hossa's 17th goal of the season.
It was Chicago's seventh straight win and 10th in its last 12 games, improving the Blackhawks' overall record to a NHL-best 34-5-4 mark. While they played much better than their record indicates, the Predators dropped to 15-22-8 on the season.
The win marked the first time in team history that the Blackhawks have swept a season series against the Predators, taking a 5-0-0 mark during the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
Chicago outshot Nashville 30-27 to extend its all-time career record over the Predators to 44-40-4.
Michael Handzus' unassisted goal at 10:07 in the third period broke a 3-3 tie, and it looked like the Blackhawks would cruise from there as the Predators appeared to tire as the game went on.
However, a defensive mixup at 16:26 allowed Nashville's Bobby Butler (fourth) to score on a slap shot, tying the game at 4-4, marking the seventh time this season that Chicago has allowed an opposing team four goals or more in a game.
In what wasn't necessarily expected to be such a high scoring game, Chicago grabbed a 3-2 lead midway through the second period when Kane tallied his 21st goal of the season at 9:20. That tied Kane with Jonathan Toews for the team lead in goals.
Nashville gave Chicago all it could handle, though.
That included the second goal of the game (and fourth of the season) by Matt Halischuk at 12:31 of the middle period, tying the game for the third time at 3-3.
Scoring was plentiful for both teams in the first period, with each team tallying a pair of goals.
Chicago scored first when Keith netted his third goal of the season at 4:48 of the first period.
But that early 1-0 margin didn't last very long as less than two minutes later, Halischuk (third) tied things up quite handily, pushing the puck past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
Then, just over four minutes later at 10:42, Kevin Henderson knocked home his first goal of the season after a scrum to the right of Crawford. It appeared Crawford lost sight of the puck momentarily and Henderson capitalized, putting the Predators ahead 2-1.
Chicago tied the score at 13:36 on Brendan Saad's 10th goal of the season.
What made the first period even more interesting is that Chicago outshot Nashville 15-8, yet the Predators wound up with more quality goals based upon the number of shots taken by both teams.
NOTES: The Blackhawks honored longtime team broadcaster Pat Foley before the game. Foley, a native of Chicago's suburbs, has called Hawks games on radio or TV (or both) for the last 33 seasons. ... Attendance was announced at 22,014. ... The Blackhawks were well-rested, not having played since a 5-2 win over Dallas on Monday. ... Chicago hosts Phoenix on Saturday before playing three of its last four regular season games on the road at Vancouver (April 22), Edmonton (April 24) and St. Louis (April 27). The Hawks' last regular season home game is April 26 vs. the Calgary Flames. ... Nashville plays its final regular season home game on April 23, and its last two games on the road at Detroit (April 25) and Columbus (April 27).