CHICAGO — Pekka Rinne made 29 saves and scored an empty-net goal, and the Nashville Predators beat the sloppy Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Thursday night for John Hynes’ first win with the team.
Hynes became the third coach in franchise history after Peter Laviolette was fired on Monday. Hynes dropped his debut when Nashville lost 6-2 to Boston on Tuesday night, but the Predators held off the Blackhawks in the final part of the third after nearly blowing a three-goal lead.
Matt Duchene, Viktor Arvidsson and Colin Blackwell also scored for Nashville, which had dropped five of six. Nick Bonino also picked up an empty-net goal before Rinne’s shot from behind the Predators’ net went in with 22 seconds left.
The 37-year-old Rinne was mobbed by his teammates after his first goal and 14th career point in the NHL.
Dominik Kubalik scored for the third straight game, but Chicago dropped to 1-2 on its four-game homestand. Alex DeBrincat added a power-play goal in the third period, and Corey Crawford finished with 25 saves.
After DeBrincat’s slick backhand trimmed Nashville’s lead to 3-2, the Blackhawks pushed hard for the tying goal. But Rinne helped the Predators kill off a power play before Bonino put it away with his 14th goal.
Nashville skated circles around Chicago at the start of the game, and the Blackhawks made several mistakes that led to quality opportunities for the Predators.
All-Star defenceman Roman Josi danced around Chicago defenceman Adam Boqvist before trying a backhand that went off Arvidsson on its way to the net. Arvidsson was awarded his 10th goal at 3:16, and Josi extended his point streak to 12 games.
Blackwell then made it 2-0 with his first career goal in his 17th game. Yakov Trenin took the puck away from the 19-year-old Boqvist before passing to Blackwell for the wide-open opportunity in the low right circle.
Blackwell entered the lineup in place of Austin Watson, who was a healthy scratch.
Another Blackhawks turnover led to the Predators’ third goal. Duchene slipped behind Chicago defenceman Slater Koekkoek, got a pass from Mattias Ekholm and beat Crawford for his 10th at 16:55.
Duchene, who turns 29 next week, has two goals and four assists in his last four games.
Blackhawks C Dylan Strome was scratched after he hurt his right ankle during Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to Calgary. He is day to day. … Predators F Kyle Turris played in his 700th NHL game. … Blackhawks G Robin Lehner was active for the first time since he injured his right knee Jan. 2 at Vancouver. … Blackhawks F Drake Caggiula played for the first time since Nov. 10. He had been sidelined by a concussion.
Predators: Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
Blackhawks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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Jay Cohen, The Associated Press