Their blistering start to the season had long ago erased any doubt that the Blackhawks would reach the postseason.

So it was business as usual in the dressing room after the Hawks became the first team in the NHL to clinch a berth in the playoffs with a 5-3 victory over the Predators on Sunday night at the United Center.

Instead of any hooting and hollering, the talk around the room was how this was merely a launching pad toward the ultimate goal.

"We're certainly happy that we have a playoff spot clinched," said defenseman Duncan Keith, who finished a plus-3 during a team-high 23 minutes, 26 seconds of ice time. "Our goal, first and foremost, was to make the playoffs. We're happy knowing that we have a chance now to play … for the Stanley Cup.

"We've got a spot, but now let's push for home-ice advantage and keep moving that bar up knowing we can be better ... and knowing we can be firing on all cylinders to be ready for the playoffs."

The win over the Predators gave the Hawks a 29-5-4 record and secured at least seventh place in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining.

Jonathan Toews, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane each had a goal and an assist and Bryan Bickell also scored to make a winner out of goaltender Ray Emery.

"If you get yourself into the playoffs, you have a chance," Emery said. "It's great to have that under our belt. More importantly, we want to be playing well going into the playoffs."

Emery improved to 14-1-0, yielding a goal and an assist each to Nick Spaling and Shea Weber and a score to David Legwand. But Emery outdueled Pekka Rinne as the Hawks completed a sweep of back-to-back games against the Predators and defeated them for the third time in a week.