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At the Rink: Predators at Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- If Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane extends his record 22-game point streak at United Center on Tuesday, it probably won't be the result of teammates forcing passes to him.

The Blackhawks, who will face the Nashville Predators (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-TN, CSN-CH), tried to help Kane surpass Bobby Hull's 21-game streak from the 1971-72 season during a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. They sent him more passes than usual, and he eventually broke Hull's record with a primary assist on rookie Artemi Panarin's empty-net goal late in the third period.

Now that he's set the new mark, things should go back to normal.

"I would hope it's a little bit more back to business and playing the game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after the morning skate Tuesday. "[Kane] has a way of finding the puck. There's nothing wrong with giving him the puck as much as possible as well, but at the same time I thought we were over-passing or taking good looks away, knowing that [Winnipeg's defense] was doing the same."

Kane's streak is not only the longest in Blackhawks history, but also the longest by an American-born NHL player. He is three games away from tying Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who strung together 25 straight games with a point from Nov. 5 to Dec. 28, 2010.

"He's just been unbelievable for us so far in the season, and he's been the biggest reason why we're in the middle of the pack [in the Central Division standings], at least," defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "If he wasn't playing this way, we'd probably be outside of a playoff spot right now. He's been kind of carrying the whole team here on his back. He's been tremendous for our team."

Outside of the past game, he's done it all within the framework of the Blackhawks' normal offensive attack. Kane doesn't need extra passes to dominate shifts.

"I don't think we need to look for him [more than usual]," forward Andrew Shaw said. "He's that kind of guy that puts himself in a good position. Pucks always find him and he's got that touch for making plays or scoring goals, so we always expect big things from him. He doesn't want us worrying about [the streak] either. He wants us to play our game and he's going to play his game."

The Predators didn't hold a morning skate after beating the Boston Bruins 3-2 at TD Garden on Monday. Pekka Rinne will get back in net for Nashville, which is likely to use the same lineup.

Corey Crawford will start for the Blackhawks, who will have a couple new faces in the lineup.

Rookie center Dennis Rasmussen, 25, will make his NHL debut after being recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Monday. Defenseman David Rundblad will replace Trevor Daley, who was injured during an awkward collision against Winnipeg.

It will be the first time Rundblad has played since Oct. 29, a span of 17 games.

"It's been a while since the last time I played, but I don't think it's a good idea for me to think about that," said Rundblad, who has no points and a minus-2 rating in five games. "I've [played] games before and I know how to play hockey. I think I've just got to go out there and try to have fun and try to play as simple as possible."

Here are the projected lineups:


Filip Forsberg - Calle Jarnkrok - James Neal

Colin Wilson - Mike Ribeiro - Viktor Arvidsson

Cody Hodgson - Colton Sissons - Craig Smith

Miikka Salomaki - Paul Gaustad - Austin Watson

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Barret Jackman - Seth Jones

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Injured: Mike Fisher (lower body), Gabriel Bourque (undisclosed)

Scratched: Eric Nystrom, Anthony Bitetto


Teuvo Teravainen - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Dennis Rasmussen - Andrew Shaw

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Ryan Garbutt

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Duncan Keith

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Brent Seabrook

David Rundblad - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Injured: Trevor Daley (upper body)

Scratched: Brandon Mashinter, Marko Dano

Status report: Rasmussen recently centered a line in Rockford that had Bickell at left wing, prior to each of them being recalled. … Daley was at United Center for the skate, but did not participate. Quenneville said Daley is close to skating and could return soon. … Rundblad prefers to play the right point, but said, "I just want to play games right now, so I'll take it." … Mashinter and Dano will be scratched for the second straight game. … Salomaki returned from an undisclosed injury in Boston, logging one shot in 12:15 after missing eight games.

Who's hot: Predators defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi have combined to score five power-play goals in the past two games. Weber scored three at the Detroit Red Wings on Dec.5, and Josi had two against the Bruins on Monday. … Kane has 13 goals and 23 assists during his streak; Keith has points in six straight games (two goals).

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