CHICAGO (AP) — The race for the Central Division is long over, and the West has been won. The Presidents' Trophy is still out there, and the Chicago Blackhawks look ready to grab that one as well.
If they can pick up a few more timely goals on the power play, this could be only the beginning.
Marian Hossa scored just 52 seconds into overtime and the streaking Blackhawks swept the season series against the Nashville Predators for the first time with a 5-4 victory Friday night.
"It's huge for the confidence of the power play and that's good," Hossa said.
With Rich Clune in the penalty box serving a four-minute minor for high sticking, Patrick Kane sent a pass across the ice to Hossa, who one-timed it past Pekka Rinne for his 17th goal of the season.
Duncan Keith also scored a power-play goal in the first period for Chicago's first score with the man advantage since March 29 against Anaheim, snapping a string of 20 unsuccessful chances over nine games.
"It made a difference for us tonight," said captain Jonathan Toews, who had two assists. "We know that in the near future here it's going to matter a lot, so we need to confident units to go out there and make plays."
Kane, Michal Handzus, and Brandon Saad also scored for the NHL-best Blackhawks, who have won seven in a row.
Slumping Nashville has dropped eight in a row and 11 of 12 overall. Matt Halischuk had two goals and Kevin Henderson scored in his first NHL game, but the Predators still lost to the Blackhawks for the fourth time this month and the sixth consecutive occasion dating to last season.
"Everybody's pushing to try to get a win," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It's one thing or another. All their goals were turnovers."
Chicago and Nashville were tied at 2 after the first period, and exchanged goals again in the second. Kane gave the Blackhawks the lead when he got a pass from Bryan Bickell and slid the puck between Rinne's legs for his team-best 21st of the season at 9:20, but Halischuk then got his second of the game when he followed his own shot on a breakaway, making it 3-3 with 7:29 left in the period.
Handzus intercepted a pass by Victor Bartley midway through the third and beat Rinne into the top of the goal, giving Chicago the lead once again. It was the first goal for the veteran center since he was acquired in a trade with San Jose on April 1.