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Blackhawks-Predators Preview

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (17-28-7) at Nashville Predators (32-15-6).

TIME: Saturday, 2 p.m. EST.

The Nashville Predators look for their seventh straight win over the Chicago Blackhawks when the teams meet at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

Nashville has outscored Chicago 29-11 over the last six games, holding the Blackhawks to two goals or less in four of those victories.

After scoring only 10 goals on a five-game road trip, the Predators returned home to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime Thursday.

Former Blackhawk Steve Sullivan scored on a breakaway in overtime to snap Nashville's three-game losing streak. Sullivan, the team's leading goal-scorer with 26, tied the Predators' franchise mark for goals in a season set by Cliff Ronning in 1999-2000.

Sullivan has a goal in each of his last five games against Chicago.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped 16 of 17 shots in the first, and finished with a season-high 46 saves.

"Our minds weren't real strong in terms of the X's and O's, but our hearts were big tonight," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Sometimes, to get off a three-game losing streak or any kind of losing streak, you need that extra effort, that extra heart and mental toughness. You've got to fight through stuff."

Paul Kariya drew an assist in the win, giving him five goals and 12 assists in his last 15 games. Kariya has four goals and two assists this season against the Blackhawks and seven goals and nine assists in his last 11 games against Chicago.

Nashville has won four of its last five at home and its 20 wins there lead the Western Conference.

Chicago lost for the sixth time in eight games after dropping a 6-5 decision in a shootout Thursday to the St. Louis Blues.

Chicago fell behind 3-0 in the second period as Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made his NHL debut.

"I settled down as the game went on - at least, I think I did," said Crawford, who made 29 saves. "Timing was the biggest part of it. I just need to get game experience and play more."

The Blackhawks, still without Nikolai Khabibulin (knee), reacquired Craig Anderson on waivers Friday. Anderson, who started the season with Chicago, was picked up on waivers by the Boston Bruins and then the Blues.

Crawford was returned to Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

STANDINGS: Blackhawks - 41 points, 4th place, 34 PB, Central Division. Predators - 70 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 18 goals; Kyle Calder and Tyler Arnason, 25 assists and 37 points; Matthew Barnaby, 125 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 26 goals; Kariya, 34 assists and 51 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 107 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blackhawks - Power play: 12.9 percent (36 for 279), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (317 for 376), 8th. Predators - Power play: 18.6 percent (63 for 339), 9th. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (290 for 342), 5th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Adam Munro (3-2-2, 1 SO, 2.37 GAA); Anderson (2-8-1, 0, 3.90). Predators - Vokoun (26-11-5, 1, 2.62); Chris Mason (5-3-1, 0, 3.16).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 4-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 8; Predators 5-1. At Chicago, Perreault had two goals as Nashville handed Chicago its 10th straight loss.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 7-15-4 on the road; Predators - 20-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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