NASHVILLE — Eeli Tolvanen scored his first NHL goal and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen also each had a goal and an assist, and Austin Watson added an empty-netter for the Predators, who snapped a two-game skid. Pekka Rinne stopped 19 shots for the win.
Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov scored for Chicago, which has lost three straight. Cam Ward finished with 24 saves.
Tolvanen, the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, got his first goal 3 1/2 minutes into the game. On the left half wall, Smith sent a backhand pass to Tolvanen alone in the low slot, where he sent a backhand over Ward’s glove to push Nashville’s lead to 2-0.
Tolvanen was recalled from Milwaukee of the AHL earlier Saturday after Filip Forsberg, the team’s leading goal scorer, was placed on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury that will sideline the Swede for 4 to 6 weeks.
Johansen’s power-play goal at 4:11 made it 3-0. Fiala attempted a wraparound on the right post but the puck sailed wide to Johansen positioned on the left post and he scored his fifth of the season.
On a rare 7-minute power play for the Predators, the teams traded goals, with Saad scoring short-handed with 7:40 left and Smith on the power play with 6:25 remaining to make it 4-1.
The lengthy man-advantage was a result of Duncan Keith being assessed 29 minutes in penalties, including a game misconduct, at 7:18 after taking exception to a check that Predators forward Miikka Salomaki delivered to him on the right boards.
Anisimov scored the only goal of a relatively quiet second period. Brandon Manning drew three Predators to him in the left circle before firing a pass to an unchecked Anisimov in the slot, where he beat Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne on the glove side to pull Chicago within two.
Watson added his empty-netter with 2:54 remaining in the third.
Fiala scored the game’s first goal at 2:11 of the opening period. From the left point, Matt Irwin threw the puck into traffic in front of the Chicago net. In the low slot, Fiala grabbed the puck, spun around and beat Ward low on the stick side.
NOTES: Nashville C Nick Bonino missed the game with illness. … Predators coach Peter Laviolette earned his 200th regular season victory with Nashville. … Predators C Anthony Richard made his NHL debut. … Nashville is 6-2-0 against fellow Central Division teams this season. … Chicago is 2-12-1 when giving up the first goal. .. Anisimov has scored in consecutive games for the first time this season.
Blackhawks: Host Calgary on Sunday.
Predators: Host Buffalo on Monday.
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Jim Diamond, The Associated Press