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Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators @NHL
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GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (3-5-0) at Nashville Predators (7-0-0).

TIME: Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDT.

Few likely thought that three weeks into the new season, the Nashville Predators would be the league's lone unbeaten team.

Nashville will try to extend the best season-opening start by any team in a decade when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

The Predators won their seventh straight game with a 2-1 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks. Nashville is the first team to start a season with seven consecutive victories since the 1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins.

"At 7-0 it is a great feeling," said Scott Hartnell, who had the game-winning goal against the Sharks. "The guys are playing with a lot of confidence. Everyone is doing their best to keep the streak alive."

The 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs opened that season with a league-record 10 wins in a row.

Nashville's Paul Kariya has three goals and seven assists during a seven-game points streak against Chicago. Overall, he has 18 goals and 22 assists in 37 career games versus the Blackhawks.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun - fast establishing himself as one of the league's rising stars in net - has won his last two starts against Chicago, stopping 61 of 64 shots.

Chicago avoided its third straight loss with a 4-2 win Sunday over the Minnesota Wild. Rookie Rene Bourque had a goal and two assists in the win.

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin made just 15 saves in the win. The Blackhawks signed Khabibulin to a lucrative contract after the lockout, hoping he would be like the player that backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning to their first Stanley Cup championship in 2003-04.

He has struggled though, winning just three games and recording an .852 save percentage so far.

Khabibulin is 4-3-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in his career against the Predators.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 22): Blackhawks - 6 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Central Division. Predators - 14 points, 2nd place, 2 PB Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Pavel Vorobiev, 5 goals; Tyler Arnason and Brent Seabrook, 6 assists; Arnason and Vorobiev, 9 points; Matthew Barnaby, 17 PIM. Predators - Steve Sullivan, 4 goals, 6 assists and 10 points; Kariya, 16 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 22): Blackhawks - Power play: 16.7 percent (9 for 54), 17th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.7 percent (55 for 69), 21st (tied). Predators - Power play: 19.5 percent (8 for 41), 10th. Penalty killing: 87.5 percent (35 for 40), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Khabibulin (3-4-0, 3.57 GAA); Craig Anderson (0-1-0, 4.14). Predators - Vokoun (6-0-0, 1.95); Chris Mason (1-0-0, 3.69).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Blackhawks, 3-2-1.

LAST MEETING: April 1, 2004; Predators, 3-1. At Chicago, former Blackhawk Sullivan and Adam Hall each scored for Nashville and Vokoun made 34 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 1-3-0 on the road; Predators - 4-0-0 at home.

Associated Press
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