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Blackhawks at Predators preview

Nashville looks to win Central Division title; Chicago seeks third straight victory

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (36-33-12) at PREDATORS (46-29-6)



The Game

The Nashville Predators will clinch the Central Division for a second consecutive season with a win in any fashion when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

The Predators will also clinch the Central Division if they get a point against the Blackhawks and both the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues lose in any fashion, or if both the Jets and Blues lose in regulation. 

Nashville, which is one point ahead of Winnipeg and St. Louis, has won two consecutive games and is 7-2-1 in its past 10 games.

The Blackhawks have won back-to-back games and are 3-0-2 in their past five. They defeated the Dallas Stars 6-1 on Friday. Forward Patrick Kane has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five games and needs two goals to tie his NHL career high of 46 set in the 2015-16 season.


Players to watch

Chicago forward Jonathan Toews has five points (two goals, three assists) in a three-game point streak.

Nashville forward Ryan Johansen has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 12 games.


They said it

"It's always nice to have a little inner competition. He's a great goal-scorer. He's probably going to be scoring a lot of goals in this League for a long time. Still trying to play the game. If he's open or if I'm open, we're kind of looking for each other. Just trying to make the right play out there." -- Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane on teammate Alex DeBrincat 

"It's a big opportunity. It feels like we've been fighting for it every single day for the past two months and have a great chance tonight. It's all in our hands. We wouldn't have it any other way to raise another banner Saturday night against the Blackhawks in Bridgestone. It really doesn't get much better than that." -- Predators forward Colton Sissons


Blackhawks projected lineup

Drake Caggiula -- Jonathan Toews -- Patrick Kane

Alex DeBrincat -- Dylan Strome -- Brendan Perlini

Brandon Saad -- Artem Anisimov -- Dominik Kahun

Chris Kunitz -- David Kampf -- John Hayden

Duncan Keith -- Erik Gustafsson

Slater Koekkoek -- Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling -- Connor Murphy

Cam Ward

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Carl Dahlstrom, Corey Crawford

Injured: None


Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund -- Kyle Turris -- Craig Smith

Colton Sissons -- Nick Bonino -- Austin Watson

Brian Boyle -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Wayne Simmonds

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Dan Hamhuis -- Dante Fabbro

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Cody McLeod, Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Frederick Gaudreau, Rem Pitlick, Miikka Salomaki

Injured: Rocco Grimaldi (upper body)


Status report

The Blackhawks did not hold a morning skate. … Grimaldi participated in Nashville's morning skate.


Stat pack

DeBrincat has four points (three goals, one assist) in his past five games. … Rinne is 10-4-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in his past 15 starts.

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