It is no surprise the Chicago Blackhawks are in the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
After all, the NHL leaders started the lockout-shortened season with points in their first 24 games -- a league record.
But the Blackhawks made a strong statement Sunday in becoming the first team this season to clinch a postseason berth, as they used a third-period rally to beat the Nashville Predators 5-3.
Rookie Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews scored 55 seconds apart midway through the third. Chicago (29-5-4) had fallen behind 3-2 early in the period on a goal by Nashville's 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.
''We obviously wanted to stay in the spot we're in in the standings,'' Toews said, ''but first and foremost, our No. 1 goal coming in every season is we want to make the playoffs.
''To beat a tea...