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Predators-Blackhawks Preview @NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks hope to continue their success against the Nashville Predators on Friday when the Central Division rivals meet at the United Center.

Chicago (17-18-5) has won three of the four meetings with Nashville (26-11-3) this season, but the Predators posted a 2-1 victory in the last game between the teams on Dec. 20.

The Blackhawks, who play eight of their next 10 games at home, look to regain control of the season series and end a four-game slump that has seen them go 1-3-0. While Chicago is 10-8-1 at the United Center, Nashville leads the West with 14 road victories.

Chicago will try to capitalize on its extended run at home after settling for a split of two road games with another divisional foe - the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play, extending their man-advantage woes as they've gone 3-for-41 (7.3 percent) in the last eight games.

"You know the first period, we had a lot of chances," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "It was one of those games where they had their goaltender playing well as ours played well. It could have gone either way."

Khabibulin, who has been stellar at home this season with an 8-4-1 mark and 2.03 goals-against average, was pulled after the first period in his last start there on Dec. 29, when he allowed three goals on seven shots in a 5-3 loss to Boston.

The Russian netminder is 3-1 with a 3.01 GAA against the Predators this season and 8-6 with one tie and a 2.84 GAA in 15 lifetime starts.

Chicago could also use a return to form by leading scorer Martin Havlat, who has 13 goals overall, but just one in his last seven games. Havlat has four goals and three assists in three games against the Predators this season and also has 11 points in 10 home games.

The Predators (26-11-3) have lost two of their last three games, including a 5-3 loss to Colorado on Monday.

Chris Mason made 30 stops and allowed four goals Monday, and hopes to rebound against the Blackhawks, whom he beat with a 29-save performance in the last meeting.

The goaltender lost his other two contests against the Blackhawks this season, allowing six goals.

Despite Monday's loss, Mason has excelled in the place of injured starter Tomas Vokoun, going 12-6-1 with a 2.29 GAA after Vokoun tore ligaments in his left thumb on Nov. 23.

Mason has also been the beneficiary of a Nashville offense that is second in the West with 133 goals, and the Predators have scored 49 goals in Mason's 12 victories.

Jason Arnott, who had two goals Monday, has scored four times in his last four games at Chicago. The center has 12 goals and 23 points in 28 games after totaling 32 goals and a career-high 76 points in 2005-06.

Chicago has not suffered consecutive shutouts since going three games without a goal from Oct. 25-30 during its season-high seven-game losing streak.

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