The Blackhawks hit the second half of their current four-game homestand as the Nashville Predators visit the United Center for the first time this season and the third meeting overall between the two teams (TICKETS).
CHI: 19-19-6, 44 PTS (7th in Central) NSH: 19-16-7, 45 PTS (6th in Central)
LAST TIME OUT
The Blackhawks dropped a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night, just the third loss in the last nine games for the team. Dominik Kubalik scored his 13th goal of the season, three shy of the rookie scoring lead, while Patrick Kane notched his 993rd career point with an assist on the tally as Showtime closes in on 1,000-point milestone.
Nashville lost the first game of the John Hynes era on Tuesday at home to the Boston Bruins, 6-2. Hynes, who was fired as New Jersey's head coach three days before the Blackhawks' first meeting of the year against the Devils, took over for Peter Laviolette on Tuesday, two days before the Predators' trip to the United Center.
Each team has a multi-goal win in Nashville in the opening two games of the season series, the Preds taking a 3-0 result on Oct. 29 and the Blackhawks earning a 7-2 win on Nov. 16 - the largest margin of victory for Chicago this season. Robin Lehner started both games in the Music City, but has missed the last two for the Blackhawks with a knee injury.
Chicago (44 PTS) and Nashville (45 PTS) are neck-and-neck in the Central Division, sitting six and five points out of a Wild Card spot, respectively, coming into the night despite occupying the bottom two seeds in the division. The winner of Thursday's game will take a crucial four-point swing as both look to climb out of the division cellar and towards a playoff spot with just under half of the season left.
Jeremy Colliton confirmed that Corey Crawford will start for the third straight game, but Lehner returns to the lineup to back him up after missing the last two outings with a knee injury.
Drake Caggiula will return to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 13 after missing the last 27 games with a concussion. Matthew Highmore and Slater Koekkoek will also draw into the lineup, while Dylan Sikura and Dennis Gilbert come out as healthy scratches and Dylan Strome (ankle) is out as well.
Colliton did not have a timeline on Strome's injury but did say "it's day-to-day though, so that's positive."