Neal has hat trick, Preds beat Blackhawks

Nashville, TN ( – James Neal registered his fifth career hat
trick and the Nashville Predators beat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on
Thursday night.

Pekka Rinne turned away 30 shots for the Predators, who have picked up at
least a point in each of their first seven games (5-0-2). It’s the longest the
team has gone without a regulation loss to open a season since starting the
2010-11 campaign with a 5-0-3 record.

Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw supplied the goals in Chicago’s (4-1-1) first
regulation loss of the season. Antti Raanta, making his second consecutive
start in place of Corey Crawford (upper-body injury), stopped 24 shots.

Neal buried a rebound into an open net to complete the hat trick and give
Nashville a 3-1 lead at 1:52 of the third period.

Shaw made a strong move to the net and knocked in his own rebound out of the
air with 7:24 left, but he was robbed by the glove of Rinne with just over a
minute remaining and Raanta pulled for an extra attacker.

Smith beat Rinne from the crease at 12:21 of the first period, and Chicago was
poised to take the lead into the intermission. However, Neal beat Raanta on a
wrist shot from the right circle with 48 seconds remaining.

Neal put the Predators ahead with 3:48 to play in the second period, scoring
on a slap shot off a Brandon Saad turnover in the Chicago zone.

Game Notes

Filip Forsberg had two assists for Nashville … The Blackhawks defeated the
Predators 2-1 in overtime at Chicago last Saturday.