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Once again, Hawks serve as the appetizer
A few more trips to the Tennessee capital and the Blackhawks are going to single-handedly bankrupt a local fast-food restaurant.
The Predators have a promotion in which fans get free tacos when they score five goals in a game. In each of the Hawks' first two trips to the Music City, the locals dined free thanks to Hawks largesse and defensive indifference.
A sellout crowd of 17,113 had their appetites whetted early Saturday, when Nashville blitzed the Hawks with four first-period goals in a span of 6 minutes 48 seconds en route to a 6-0 rout.
The win was the fifth straight this season for Nashville over the Hawks and seventh straight over the last two seasons.
The loss, coupled with St. Louis' victory, left the Hawks only five points ahead of Blues for last place in the Western Conference with two more games left against St. Louis.
"[Nashville] made some good plays and we made some mistakes, obviously," coach Trent Yawney said.
An indication of how the night was going to be came right after the opening faceoff, when new captain Martin Lapointe took a high-sticking penalty at the nine-second mark.
The Hawks killed that and another penalty to Kyle Calder soon after but the worst was yet to come.
Scott Hartnell opened the scoring at 8:37 when he took a pass that Patrick Sharp tried to break up with his glove hand instead of stick. Hartnell stick-handled Adam Munro down and out for the first of his three goals and the rout was on.
Yanic Perreault tipped a perfect pass from Paul Kariya past Munro 1:22 later to make it 2-0.
From behind the Hawks' goal, Hartnell sent a pass between Duncan Keith and Jim Vandermeer to a wide-open Craig Johnson, who whipped a shot past Munro to make it 3-0 at 12:03.
That ended the night for Munro, who was lifted for the second time in his last four starts.
"You have to get that timely save," Yawney said. "That one mistake we make ends up in the back of our net."
Craig Anderson, just reclaimed on waivers Friday, entered a game for the first time since Jan. 11 and gave up Hartnell's second first-period goal on the second shot he saw to make it 4-0.
The home crowd spent the rest of the game wondering when the free tacos would come. They arrived at 4:40 of the third when Martin Erat made it 5-0. Hartnell completed the scoring with his last goal with 1:25 left.
The combined attendance in the first three games the Hawks have played in Nashville is 42,226 with another game in April.
That's a lot of tacos.
Yawney said injured forward Tuomo Ruutu is progressing from ankle surgery to repair a torn tendon. Yawney said Ruutu likely won't begin skating until the summer. . . . Since being benched Jan. 22, Tyler Arnason had one goal and two assists in his next three games going into Saturday. "Much better," Yawney said of Arnason's play. . . . Three fans in Hawks jerseys wearing bags over their heads were voted fans of the game in a scoreboard contest.