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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 08, 2017 10:00 pm

Rookie's hat trick leads 'Hawks

JAY COHEN | Associated Press

CHICAGO – Ryan Hartman scored off a goalmouth scramble in the third period and tacked on two empty-netters to help the Chicago Blackhawks beat the banged-up Nashville Predators 5-2 on Sunday night.

Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won the first three of a four-game homestand. Patrick Kane added three assists, running his team-best total to 32 in 43 games, and Corey Crawford made 25 saves.

Hartman was credited with his eighth of the season when Richard Panik’s shot created a scrum in front of the net, and the referees ruled the puck crossed the line before the goal was dislodged.

It looked as if the puck might have gone off Hartman’s left hand while he battled Nashville defenseman Yannick Weber for position.

The Predators pulled Pekka Rinne for an extra attacker with 1:39 left, and Hartman added two more goals for his first career hat trick.

The big night for the rookie moved him into fifth on the team with 10 goals.

Nashville lost for the third time in four games. Mattias Ekholm and Austin Watson scored for the Predators, and Rinne finished with 26 stops.

The Predators played without defenseman P.K. Subban and forwards James Neal, Colin Wilson and Viktor Arvidsson.

Subban has been out since Dec. 15 with an upper-body injury, and Neal was placed on injured reserve Saturday with an upper-body injury. Arvidsson missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, and Wilson was inactive after he left Friday’s 2-1 loss at Florida with a lower-body injury.

But Nashville was in position to possibly steal one on the road before Hartman’s closing flurry.

The Predators tied it at 2 early in the third when Mike Fisher’s shot got past Crawford and went off the post before Watson poked it in.

Defenseman Ryan Ellis had a shot go off the right post about 51/2 minutes into the third, and the Predators had a couple more prime scoring opportunities in the final period.

Chicago jumped in front in the first when Kane skated into the middle of the Nashville zone and passed it over to Panarin, who drove a one-timer over Rinne’s right shoulder from the outside of the left circle at 7:45.

Panarin, who also scored in Friday night’s 2-1 win against Carolina, nearly picked up a second goal in the second, but Rinne got over for a terrific left pad save. The Russian winger has 20 points in his last 18 games.

Nashville bounced right back after Panarin’s 17th of the season, tying it at 1 just 45 seconds later. Fisher made a nice pass to Ekholm, who beat Crawford from the left circle for his second goal of the season.