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Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (20-40-11-7) at Nashville Predators (35-28-11-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 8 p.m. EST.

A team battling for a playoff spot heading into the final days of the regular season should look forward to a home-and-home series with one of the NHL's worst clubs.

The Nashville Predators, however, may not be too excited about playing the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Predators are among four teams vying for the last three playoff spots in the Western Conference, and are facing a Blackhawks team that has just 58 points.

Nashville, however, has lost three of four meetings with Chicago this season, and has just one win in the last nine games in the series (1-6-2).

The Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues are tied for seventh place in the conference with 87 points, and are three behind the sixth-place Calgary Flames. The Predators are two points behind both Edmonton and St. Louis in ninth place.

Nashville comes into this contest struggling with just two wins in its last 11 games (2-4-3-2) after falling 3-2 in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets at home on Saturday.

The Predators, looking for their first playoff berth in six NHL seasons, extended their home winless skid to five straight. Nashville blew a 2-0 lead and has not won at home since beating the New York Rangers 2-1 on Feb. 28.

"We're in the thick of things now," Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said. "We've taken in a cushion we've had the last eight, 10 games, and it's totally gone now."

Chicago didn't help Nashville's cause this weekend, losing twice to St. Louis. The Blackhawks fell 3-1 at home on Sunday, and are 0-2-2-1 in their last five games.

The Blues took advantage of undisciplined Chicago and scored three times with two-man advantages in the first period. The Blackhawks drew six consecutive penalties in the period, giving the Blues 10:48 of power-play time.

Chicago coach Brian Sutter didn't think his team deserved all the penalties.

"The referees had a determining factor in the outcome of the game," Sutter said. "It's frustrating to our players when other people are involved in the outcome of the game besides the people who are playing it."

The Predators and Blackhawks conclude the home-and-home series on Thursday in Chicago.

STANDINGS (through March 28): Blackhawks - 58 points, 5th place, 45 PB, Central Division. Predators - 85 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Tyler Arnason, 22 goals and 53 points; Bryan Berard, 32 assists; Travis Moen, 131 PIM. Predators - Scott Walker, 24 goals; Sullivan, 48 assists and 71 points; Jordin Tootoo, 132 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 28): Blackhawks - Power play: 15.6 percent (53 for 340), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (302 for 357), 12th. Predators - Power play: 17.0 percent (70 for 411), 11th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (279 for 342), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Jocelyn Thibault (5-4-2, 1 SO, 2.43 GAA); Adam Munro (1-4-1, 3.97). Predators - Tomas Vokoun (32-28-10, 3, 2.57); Chris Mason (3-4-1, 1, 2.28).

SEASON SERIES: Blackhawks, 3-0-1.

LAST MEETING: March 1; 2-2. At Nashville, Tenn., Munro stopped 33 shots in his first NHL game, and fellow rookie Matt Keith scored his first NHL goal with 1:44 remaining in regulation to tie it for Chicago.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 7-24-5-2 on the road; Predators - 21-9-7-2 at home.

Associated Press
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