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Blackhawks blank Predators

– The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of offense.

With the regular season starting to wind down, they’re providing a strong reminder that they can play pretty stingy defense, too.

Bryan Bickell scored in the first period, and Ray Emery made 20 saves and the Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 1-0 Saturday for their third win in four games.

“That’s a team that you’ve really got to play some boring hockey against,” Emery said of Nashville. “You just try to be in good defensive position and take advantage when you get the opportunity. And I thought we played that strategy to a T tonight.”

Chicago improved to 12-0-1 against the Central Division this season and moved closer to clinching the playoff berth.

The Blackhawks won their third against Nashville this season and second in six days. They’ll have a chance at their third in a week tonight in Chicago as these teams wrap up a back-to-back.

Emery posted his second shutout and the 13th of his career, and Chicago improved to 16-3-4 in one-goal games this season. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called Emery rock solid in doing what he had to do for the shutout.

“I thought he was in control around the net against that team,” Quenneville said. “There are a lot of scrambles, a lot of loose stuff.

“They create traffic, and I thought he found pucks and froze them and looked very big.”

MAPLE LEAFS 2, DEVILS 1: In Newark, N.J., rookie Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak scored as Toronto extended New Jersey’s losing streak to six games. The Maple Leafs are fifth in the East, seven points ahead of the Devils, who are now three points behind the eighth-place Islanders and the postseason cutoff.

KINGS 4, OILERS 1: In Los Angeles, Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves to lead Los Angeles.

JETS 4, FLYERS 1: In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Winnipeg scored four second-period goals in less than seven minutes.

ISLANDERS 4, LIGHTNING 2: In Uniondale, N.Y., Matt Martin scored the go-ahead goal with less than seven minutes left in the third period, and Evgeni Nabokov made 19 saves for New York.

RANGERS 4, HURRICANES 1: In Raleigh, N.C., Henrik Lundqvist made a season-high 48 saves, and New York handed Carolina its club-record-tying seventh straight home loss.

CAPITALS 4, PANTHERS 3: In Sunrise, Fla., Alex Ovechkin recorded his 12th career hat trick and added an assist to as Washington completed a four-game season sweep of Florida.

CANADIENS 2, BRUINS 1: In Montreal, Michael Ryder’s power-play goal 57 seconds into the second period lifted Montreal.