Kariya lifts Predators

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Paul Kariya scored in the second round of a shootout, and the Nashville Predators finally clinched their second straight playoff berth with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Predators had lost six of their last eight before their matchup with Chicago. It looked like they would have to hope Calgary beat Vancouver later Saturday to cinch that berth as Blackhawks goaltender Craig Anderson protected a 1-0 lead for the first 56 minutes.

But Mark Eaton finally tied it with 3:58 left in regulation with a one-timer near the blue line through traffic that went beat Anderson over his glove.

Duncan Keith gave the Predators a chance to avoid overtime when he drew a double minor for high sticking Jerred Smithson with 1:37 to go but the Predators couldn’t convert. Nashville outshot Chicago 43-24 in regulation and overtime.

The Predators improved to 6-3 in shootouts as goaltender Chris Mason, making his fourth straight start in place of Tomas Vokoun, stopped Matthew Barnaby with a pad save and then gloved a shot by Patrick Sharp.

Martin Erat scored on the first try for Nashville, bouncing the puck off Anderson before it trickled over the line. Kariya, who now has five goals in seven shootout attempts, won the game by beating the goalie to the glove side.

Chicago’s James Wisniewski scored his second goal this season at 2:20 of the first period.

Nashville has won six of its last eight games against its Central Division rival, and got some revenge for a 4-3 loss in Chicago on Wednesday night.

Chicago now has lost six straight in Nashville and four of its last five overall.

Notes: The Predators had a moment of silence before the opening faceoff for the 36 Tennesseans killed by tornadoes within the past six days, including 12 on Friday near Nashville. … Nashville has not allowed a power-play goal in four straight games, going 22-of-22. … Vokoun remains day-to-day with a sore back. Second-leading scorer Steve Sullivan missed his fifth game with a groin injury.

AP-ES-04-08-06 2307EDT

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