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Blackhawks-Predators Preview @NHLdotcom
Blackhawks-Predators Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (12-15-2) at Nashville Predators (18-7-3).

TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Nashville Predators look to end a three-game losing streak and find some help in goal when they open a three-game homestand against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Nashville suffered a 7-3 loss Tuesday night to the Florida Panthers as they took advantage of rookie goaltender Brian Finley, forced into action when backup Chris Mason pulled his groin during pregame warmups.

The Predators' top goalie, Tomas Vokoun, sprained his right knee on Dec. 8, prompting Nashville to recall Finley from Milwaukee of the AHL on Friday.

The 24-year-old Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native did not respond well in his first career start, surrendering all seven goals on 41 shots, including four scores in the second period.

"I'm not using Brian Finley as an excuse why we lost," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Brian didn't have a great game, but a lot of guys didn't have a great game. Brian's not the excuse."

Finley hopes to get another chance in net if Mason can't go.

"Hopefully, if there's a next time I'm in there, I'll play better," he said.

The Predators on Thursday also recalled goaltender 6-foot-5 goaltender Pekka Rinne from Milwaukee.

Nashville has allowed 16 goals during its longest losing streak of the season.

Leading goal-scorer Steve Sullivan, a former Blackhawk, has failed to score a goal on home ice in five games.

Chicago failed to extend its winning streak to three games with a 5-3 loss Tuesday to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blackhawks hadn't lost in regulation in five straight games, including four in a row decided in overtime.

"We butchered a lot of offensive chances, a lot of 3-on-2s in that first period where we didn't really get a shot on net," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said.

Right wing Pavel Vorobiev has two goals and an assist in two games after missing five with an ankle injury.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 13): Blackhawks - 26 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Central Division. Predators - 39 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 11 goals; Tyler Arnason, 16 assists and 23 points; Matthew Barnaby, 70 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 12 goals; Paul Kariya, 16 assists and 25 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 85 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 14): Blackhawks - Power play: 14.6 percent (25 for 170), 26th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.5 percent (193 for 231), 10th. Predators - Power play: 18.3 percent (34 for 185), 13th. Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (162 for 189), 4th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Nikolai Khabibulin (10-14-1, 0 SO, 3.28 GAA); Craig Anderson (2-1-1, 0, 3.94). Predators - Finley (0-1, 7.00); Rinne (no appearances).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 25; Predators, 5-3. At Nashville, Tenn., Kariya had a goal and an assist to lead the Predators.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 6-11-2 on the road; Predators - 13-3-0 at home.

Associated Press
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