Chicago Blackhawks lose to Nashville Predators 5-3

Tribune reporter

NASHVILLE — The Blackhawks finally reached the end of their long and winding road.

Playing away from home for the 12th time in their last 14 games since the All-Star break, the Hawks finished the way they did only four other times during the grueling stretch — with a loss.

Joel Ward scored the game-winner with 5 minutes 3 seconds remaining Tuesday night as the Nashville Predators rallied to defeat the Blackhawks 5-3 before a crowd of 15,075 at the Sommet Center. The loss was the Hawks' second straight and snapped their three-game road winning streak.

Dustin Byfuglien, Martin Havlat and Patrick Kane scored goals in the second period to give the Hawks a 3-1 lead heading into the third, but Nashville scored four straight goals to hand goaltender Cristobal Huet and the Hawks the defeat.

"We didn't play well in the first and third periods," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "They had a lot of play in our end, and that was the difference."

After a scoreless first period, Byfuglien broke the ice at 6:05 when he tipped in Brian Campbell's shot from inside the blue line. The goal was Byfuglien's 10th and snapped a 16-game goalless skid for the winger.

Havlat made it 2-0 just 2:52 later when he backhanded a shot past Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne for his 20th. Dave Bolland took the puck to the net and it squirted to Havlat who put it in from between the circles.

After Jason Arnott knocked a rebound of a Steve Sullivan attempt past Huet to make it 2-1 at 14:11, Kane scored from an odd angle to increase the Hawks' lead to 3-1. The second-year winger sent a shot from behind the goal line that bounced off Rinne and in.

Nashville came out flying in the third and tied the score at 3-3 as David Legwand and J.P. Dumont scored. Legwand chipped a backhander past Huet at 2:10, and former Hawk Dumont scored on a slap shot from the right circle while on the power play 3:01 later.

"We stopped moving our feet," Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We allowed them to skate with it and make plays. We probably needed to keep our shifts shorter, and we didn't do as good of a job as we did the first two periods at that. We made it more complicated than it needed to be."

Ward scored the game-winner when he tucked in a shot past Huet from in close after a goal-mouth scramble. Shea Weber closed the scoring with a power-play goal with just more than 2 minutes remaining.

"I thought all in all on the road trip we played pretty well and came home with a pretty good record," said Hawks winger Troy Brouwer, who had one assist. "We took a couple of penalties early in and a couple of costly penalties late as well, and they got some momentum and they got a goal and just kept rolling from it."

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