PREDATORS (29-23-7) at BLACKHAWKS (26-26-8)
8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, FS-TN, NHL.TV
Ryan Ellis could return for the Nashville Predators when they try to gain ground in the Western Conference wild-card race, against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Friday.
The defenseman, who missed the past 20 games with a concussion, has 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 39 games this season.
The Predators, 7-4-0 in their past 11 games after going 4-7-1 in their previous 12, trail the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes by three points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup playoffs from the West.
The Blackhawks, 2-6-2 in their past 10 games following a five-game winning streak, are eight points out of the second wild-card spot.
Players to watch
Predators forward Craig Smith has six goals in his past six games.
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has six points (two goals, four assists) in a three-game point streak and 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in 64 games against Nashville.
They said it
"[I'm feeling] much better. [It's been a] long road, and I've never really been down that one, so it's nice to be feeling more like myself." -- Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis
"On a day like yesterday, we want to be very precise as far as the message we want to send, and I think we did that and now it's about bringing energy and translating that sharpness into how we play and that'll be the focus tonight. I think it was a good morning. There was energy and now we've got to start the game on time." -- Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton
Predators projected lineup
Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson
Calle Jarnkrok -- Matt Duchene -- Mikael Granlund
Rocco Grimaldi -- Kyle Turris -- Craig Smith
Colin Blackwell -- Colton Sissons -- Austin Watson
Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis
Jarred Tinordi -- Mattias Ekholm
Dan Hamhuis -- Dante Fabbro
Scratched: Nick Bonino, Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber
Blackhawks projected lineup
Dominik Kubalik -- Jonathan Toews -- Drake Caggiula
Brandon Saad -- Ryan Carpenter -- Patrick Kane
Alex DeBrincat -- Kirby Dach -- Dylan Strome
Matthew Highmore -- David Kampf -- Alex Nylander
Duncan Keith -- Adam Boqvist
Erik Gustafsson -- Connor Murphy
Olli Maatta -- Slater Koekkoek
Scratched: Nick Seeler
Injured: Calvin de Haan (right shoulder), Brent Seabrook (right shoulder/left and right hip), Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol), Zack Smith (left hand)
The Predators did not hold a morning skate. … Zack Smith could return for Chicago on Sunday at the Dallas Stars, Colliton said.
Duchene has 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games against Chicago in his NHL career. … Arvidsson has scored a goal in three of his past five games against the Blackhawks. … Chicago is 0-for-17 on the power play in their past six games. … Toews has six points (one goal, five assists) in a three-game point streak.