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updated: 4/7/2013 9:05 PM

Blackhawks clinch playoff spot with win over Preds

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  • Chicago Blackhawks players including Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson surround Jonathan Toews (lower left) after Toews scored the eventual game winner in the third period as the Hawks beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 in an NHL hockey game in Chicago on Sunday.

      Chicago Blackhawks players including Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson surround Jonathan Toews (lower left) after Toews scored the eventual game winner in the third period as the Hawks beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 in an NHL hockey game in Chicago on Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Rookie Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews scored 55 seconds apart midway through the third period, and the Chicago Blackhawks rallied to beat the Nashville Predators 5-3 on Sunday night to become the first team to clinch a NHL playoff spot this season.

Chicago (29-5-4) had fallen behind 3-2 early in the third on a goal by David Legwand, but Saad and Toews connected against Pekka Rinne to put the Blackhawks back ahead.

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The Blackhawks defeated the Predators for the second time in two days and improved to 13-0-1 against Central Division teams. Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell also scored for Chicago, and Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal.

Shea Weber and Nick Spaling each had a goal and an assist for the Predators (15-17-8), who are 13th in the Western Conference with 38 points, five behind eighth-place Detroit at the postseason cutoff.

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