CHICAGO - 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.
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.
• Stars 5, Sharks 4, SO: In San Jose, Calif., Jamie Benn scored the lone goal in the shootout and Kari Lehtonen stopped all three attempts as Dallas snapped the Sharks' seven-game winning streak.
Alex Chiasson started the rally from a two-goal deficit in the third period when he scored his second goal of the game, and Loui Erickson tied it for the Stars, who have won two straight following a three-game losing streak.
• Blues 1, Red Wings 0: In Detroit, Brian Elliott made 28 saves for his 19th career shutout and Chris Porter scored the game's only goal.
Porter scored off a goalmouth scramble with 3:32 remaining in the second period with this second goal of the season. Elliott got his first shutout of the season to help St. Louis move into a tie with Minnesota for sixth place in the Western Conference.
• Wild 3, Blue Jackets 0: In Columbus, Ohio, Niklas Backstrom made 24 saves, and newcomer Jason Pominville had a goal and an assist to help Minnesota snap a three-game losing streak by beating Columbus.
• Panthers 1, Senators 0: In Sunrise, Fla., Dmitry Kulikov scored a power-play goal 10:46 into the third period to lift Florida over Ottawa and send the Senators to their fourth straight loss.
• Capitals 4, Lightning 2: In Washington, Alex Ovechkin scored twice to make it five goals in two games and the Capitals won.
• Sabres 3, Devils 2, SO: In Buffalo, N.Y., Nathan Gerbe scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Sabres the win.
• Ducks 4, Kings 3, SO: In Anaheim, Calif., Corey Perry scored late in the second period and added the winning goal in the shootout for the Ducks.
DETROIT - The NHL's goal is the keep the Coyotes in Phoenix. Whether it will happen is still in doubt.
Speaking at the league's announcement of the 2014 Winter Classic on Sunday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league's focus is to leave the Coyotes in the desert.
"We're not planning on moving Phoenix as we stand here today," he said.
• The Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium has been reset for Jan. 1 after its cancellation this season because of the NHL lockout.