As far as opponents go, the Nashville Predators couldn't have asked for a better matchup to secure a playoff berth than the Blackhawks.
The Hawks have been as competitive in Nashville recently as your standard homecoming opponent for a major college football teamwithout a victory here since March 2004.
That streak is now at six games after Nashville rallied for a 2-1 shootout triumph that clinched the Predators' second straight playoff spot.
Paul Kariya scored the clincher in the shootout, beating Craig Anderson high to the glove side. Martin Erat also scored in the shootout for Nashville.
Matthew Barnaby and Patrick Sharp were stopped by Chris Mason as the Hawks fell to 2-6 in shootouts this season.
As they did Wednesday at the United Center, the Hawks jumped on Mason early. James Wisniewski fired a shot from the right point that went over Mason's left shoulder to put the Hawks ahead 2 minutes 20 seconds into the game.
Nashville has done most of its damage against the Hawks this season on the power play, converting 7 of 46 chances. That didn't bode well for a Hawks penalty-killing unit that allowed three power-play goals Friday in a 4-3 overtime loss to Edmonton and has dropped to 13th in the league at 83.4 percent.
But in two power-play chances in the first period Saturday, the Predators looked more like the Hawks on the power play, failing even to post a shot on goal.
The Predators had five straight power-play opportunitiesthree in the second periodand came up empty on all of them until the Hawks went on the power early in the third period. They failed also, but that's not news this season.
The Hawks were 0-for-3 Saturday and are just 1-for-51 in the season series against Nashville.
The Predators tied the game with just less than four minutes remaining in regulation. Mark Eaton, the late man on the rush, ripped a shot from the high slot past Anderson, who shut out the Predators 3-0 March 1.
Curtis Brown suffered a concussion Friday night in the 4-3 loss in overtime after colliding with Dustin Byfuglien. The Hawks recalled tough guy Mike Brown from Norfolk to replace him. Brown picked up his first assist on his first shift, picking up a point on Wisniewski's goal. Brown was agitating to go at it with Nashville tough guy Darcy Hordichuk and finally got his chance in the second period. The fight lasted less than 30 seconds with Hordichuk notching the decision. Brown ended up with more time in the penalty boxnine minutesthan on the ice4:45. The Predators' scratches Saturday would make a pretty good team. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun (back), defensemen Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) and Ryan Suter (coach's decision) along with forwards Scottie Upshall (coach's decision), David Legwand (knee), Steve Sullivan (groin) and Jordin Tootoo (tailbone).