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PREVIEW: Blackhawks at Predators - April 19, 2021

Chicago opens pivotal three-game set against Nashville on Monday night in the Music City

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

TIME: 7 p.m. CT
TV: NBCSCH   RADIO: WGN 720-AM / TUDN 1200-AM  |  STREAM: NHL.TV & MyTeamsApp

Chicago's playoff push reaches a potentially decisive week as the Blackhawks open a three-game set against the Predators on Monday night in Nashville. The two teams travel to Chicago for the remainder of the series on Wedneday and Friday at the United Center. 


TEAM RECORDS

CHI: 21-19-5, 47 PTS
NSH: 24-21-1, 49 PTS


LAST TIME OUT

Chicago took a 4-0 win over Detroit on Saturday night in the fourth shutout performance of the season. Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Wyatt Kalynuk and Pius Suter all scored in the victory while Malcolm Subban made 29 stops in his second clean sheet of the year. 

Nashville dropped a pair of games to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and Saturday nights, 4-1 and 3-1, respectively. Erik Haula and Roman Josi scored the goals with Juuse Saros in net on both outings. 


VS. NASHVILLE

The Predators have had the Blackhawks' number thus far on the year, with three regulation wins, an overtime win and a shootout win in five outings. Nashville is the only team to shut out Chicago this season in the last meeting, 3-0.

Saros has allowed just two goals on 101 shots in three starts against the Blackhawks. Luke Kunin (1G, 3A), Roman Josi (2G, 1A) and Mikael Granlund (2G, 1A) lead the opposition scoring over the first five meetings. Suter (1G, 2A), Alex DeBrincat (2G) and Kane (2A) are the lone Blackhawks with multiple points in five skates vs. the Predators this year. 


PLAYOFF TEST

With the two teams separated by just two points in the Central Division race for the fourth and final playoff spot, the impending three-game set this week could be a deciding factor in who is above the playoff line come May 11 and whose season is over. 

"These will be the three biggest games of the year and this group is excited," Vinnie Hinostroza said after Saturday's win in Detroit. "It's huge we got the momentum going into it."

Another important factor in this crucial week is Dallas, who sits one point below Chicago with two games in hand. The Stars face the Detroit Red Wings in four straight meetings before the week's end, making up ground in one of their two few games played. 


WELCOME BACK, VINNIE

Hinostroza matched a career high with three assists and points (3A) on Saturday night. It was his seventh career three-point game and his first since Dec. 12, 2019 as a member of the Florida Panthers. He has five assists in six games with the Blackhawks since being acquired for his second stint with the club on April 2.


NO GOALS FOR YOU

Malcolm Subban stopped 29 shots on Saturday for his second shutout of the season (Feb. 25, 2021 at CBJ) and third of his career. It was the Blackhawks second shutout of the year against the Red Wings as Kevin Lankinen posted his first career NHL shutout on Feb. 17 at Detroit. Lankinen logged his second shutout of the year on March 25 vs. Florida.

It is the first time the Blackhawks have recorded four or more shutouts in a season since the 2016-17 campaign when Corey Crawford and Scott Darling posted two apiece.


QUICK LEARNERS

The Blackhawks received two goals from rookies on Saturday -- Kalynuk and Suter. It was the eighth instance this season that Chicago has collected a goal from two or more rookies in a game. 

Suter shares second in the league among rookies this year with 12 markers and shares sixth among NHL rookies with 20 points. Chicago leads the NHL with 32 goals and is third with 66 points from rookies this season.


CAT STREAKING

Alex DeBrincat recorded a marker on Saturday to extend his point streak (2G, 3A) to four games. It's his fourth point streak of at least four games this season.

His 22 markers share fifth in the league this year. Since he returned to the lineup on Feb. 2 after being removed from COVID-19 protocol, DeBrincat is third in the NHL with 20 goals and shares 15th with 37 points.

He tallied 18 goals and 45 points in 70 games last season.

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