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Preds move past Detroit in the standings with overtime loss…

The Chicago Blackhawks are considered a Stanley Cup favorite. The Nashville Predators are considered just a playoff team.

Chicago proved that on Monday night.

In front of 20,721 at United Center, the Blackhawks found a way to beat the visiting Predators, requiring overtime to do so. The 5-4 win improved Chicago to a Central Division best 6-2-2 and the point from the overtime loss moved Nashville past the Detroit Red Wings in the standings.

Detroit will try to hurdle the Preds when they face-off against the Minnesota Wild tomorrow night.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne, who has started every game this season, made 30 saves in the loss, many to keep his team in the game.

Things got off on the right foot for the Preds. Just like Saturday night, Patric Hornqvist wasted no time scoring the first goal. After Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford came out to play the puck, Colin Wilson was able to chip it over to a waiting Hornqvist for the score. The contest was only 26 seconds old when the puck crossed the line. On Saturday, the Preds and Ducks had only been playing for 18 seconds.

After a solid first period with a handful of decent scoring chances of their own, Chicago would tie the score. With just 49 seconds remaining in the frame, Patrick Kane was left alone in the slot and snapped the puck past Rinne for the equalizer.

While the Preds did strike first in the second period, they didn’t do it quite as fast as they did in the first. 6:00 in, they re-took the lead when Martin Erat found Craig Smith breaking in late. The former University of Wisconsin Badger wristed a shot over Crawford’s right shoulder to make it 2-1, Nashville.

The Blackhawks would answer with a Nick Leddy goal but Chicago took two ill-advised penalties immediately following and the Predators cashed in. On their first 5-on-3 power play of the 2011-12 season, Hornqvist got a light wrister through Crawford for his second of the game and fourth of the season. Nashville would take a 3-2 lead into the locker room.

Kane got his second of the game when he wristed what seemed like a harmless shot on goal. Rinne would have had the shot were it not for Kevin Klein putting his stick out in an attempt to block it, an unfortunate bounce to be sure. The puck would end up knuckling on the Nashville netminder and, therefore, hitting the twine for the tying score.

After Bryan Bickell got the go-ahead goal for the home team, David Legwand answered with nearly 5:00 left in regulation by cleaning up some garbage in front of the net, forcing overtime.

With Legwand coasting behind the play, Chicago broke into the Preds zone 3-on-2. The puck carrier, Viktor Stalberg, used his speed along the wing to turn Jack Hillen around and, when the Preds defenseman pivoted, Stalberg snapped a shot past Rinne for the game winner.

The Predators will take their one point from the overtime loss and focus on the west coast trip coming  up. They face off against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. Puck drops at 9:00pm Central so get your mid-day nap in.

* The Predators had never scored in the opening 30 seconds of back-to-back games before tonight.
* Matter of fact, the last player to scored in the opening 30 seconds of back-to-back games was Pavel Bure back in March of 1998.
* Rinne assisted on the third Nashville goal, giving him two career NHL points.
* Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return.
* Stalberg has scored 24 goals in this league. Five of them have been game winners.
* Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn and Nick Spaling all missed action due to various injuries.
* Ryan Thang played his first career NHL game tonight in the city of his birth.
* Nashville took nine penalties. Chicago took just four.
* This is the first time the Predators have lost a game when scoring three or more goals this season.

1) Patrick Kane (CHI)
2) Viktor Stalberg (CHI)
3) Patric Hornqvist (NSH)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //