NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Nashville Predators were happy to be back home, even if it was for just one game.
Rookie Marek Mazanec made 39 saves for his first NHL victory and the Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-2 Saturday night.
Craig Smith scored a goal and added two assists for the Predators. The three-point game equaled the Madison, Wis. native’s career high.
Matt Cullen, Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist, Viktor Stalberg, Mike Fisher and Shea Weber also scored for Nashville, which ended a four-game losing streak.
Patrick Kane and Brandon Pirri had the goals for Chicago, which had its four-game winning streak snapped.
Making his second start in as many days, Mazanec stopped seven shots in the first, 17 in the second, and 15 in the third.
“It’s awesome,” Mazanec said. “I am really happy. We played a really good game.”
The 22-year-old Czech is playing his first season in North America.
Nashville played its first home game since Oct. 26, having just returned from a seven-game road trip that spanned 17 days. They head back out on the road for games in Detroit and Toronto next week.
“Good response by our guys today,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We looked at this game as the end of road trip, not the first home game really because of the quick turnover and obviously playing the Stanley Cup champions.”
Cullen scored the game’s first goal at 7:28 of the opening period.
From the slot, Smith’s slap shot was stopped by Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. The rebound fell to the right of the net, and a diving Cullen poked the rebound in for his third goal of the season.
Less than a minute later, Spaling doubled the Nashville lead when his wrist shot from the right faceoff dot slipped just underneath the crossbar at 8:25.
Later in the first, Khabibulin left the game with an injury after making stops on shots from Weber and Hornqvist. Corey Crawford replaced Khabibulin at 15:33.
Following the game, the Blackhawks said that Khabibulin had a lower-body injury, but had no further update.
“We got outworked,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. “We didn’t do the things we needed to. We didn’t win our battles, especially in the right areas we needed to win them in.”
Hornqvist’s sixth goal of the season came at 9:02 of the second to give Nashville a 3-0 lead.
With Nashville on a power play, Roman Josi’s slap shot from just above the left faceoff circle was tipped by Hornqvist in front and beat Crawford on the short side.
Smith and Kane traded goals late in the second, with Smith connecting at 18:18 and Kane answering 26 seconds later.
“We just stayed positive and erased the last couple of games,” Smith said. “We just kind of refreshed for this game. It’s also nice to be home. It’s a good feeling.”
Pirri briefly cut the Nashville lead to 4-2 at 6:14 of the third, but Stalberg, the former Blackhawk, struck back at 6:29. Fisher added his at 12:19.
“It was a free night for them offensively, we were very gracious,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know what it takes and we know they’re going to be desperate.”
Weber scored on the power play at 14:07. His assist earlier in the game on Hornqvist’s goal was his 300th career NHL point.