A three-game series is usually reserved for baseball, but tonight in Nashville, the Predators begin the first of a trio of incredibly important contests against the Chicago Blackhawks.
This evening's outing comes at Bridgestone Arena, before the Preds head north to the United Center for the final two meetings of the season, and with the Predators and Hawks both vying for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, the postseason implications are noteworthy.
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[Read More: Preds Projected Lineup vs. Chicago]
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Video: Coach Hynes previews week of games versus Hawks
Nashville has 49 points with 10 games to go in the regular season, and Chicago is two points back of that fourth spot with a game in hand. However, the Predators have yet to lose the Hawks this season while posting a 5-0-0 record against their rivals.
The Predators will be looking to bounce back from a pair of losses in Carolina over the past few days, and neither team should have any difficulty getting up for this one tonight.
Video: Ekholm speaks on facing Hawks three times in a week
"They're huge games, and we all know that," Preds Captain Roman Josi said following Saturday's loss. "Every game is huge. Tonight was a huge game, and I thought we kind of got away from our identity a little bit tonight in the first. We've just got to get back to playing to our identity for 60 minutes, and it's going to be really important against Chicago."
Nashville did not practice on Sunday, but they are scheduled to hold a morning skate today at Bridgestone Arena. Predators forward Matt Duchene returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing 22 games due to injury, and defenseman Erik Gudbranson made his Preds debut after being acquired from Ottawa one week ago.
Update: Following the morning skate, Preds Head Coach John Hynes said Nashville will stick with the same lineup tonight as they iced on Saturday in Carolina. There were no additional updates on any of Nashville's injured players.
The Good Guys:
Josi scored the lone goal in Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes, and Juuse Saros made 45 saves, including 23 in the opening period alone, in net for Nashville.
With Filip Forsberg remaining one of the many Preds still injured, Josi continues to be the team's active leader in scoring with 28 points (6g-22a), including 20 points (4g-16a) in his last 22 appearances dating back to Feb. 23. Josi is followed by Viktor Arvidsson with 24 points (10g-14a), Calle Jarnkrok with 20 points (11g-9a) and Mikael Granlund with 18 points (11g-7a). Saros is 15-9-0 on the season; Pekka Rinne is 9-12-1.
The Blackhawks have won three of their last four games, including a 4-0 victory over Detroit on Saturday night. Patrick Kane leads the Hawks with 56 points (15g-41a), followed by Alex DeBrincat with 43 points (22g-21a) and Dominik Kubalik with 29 points (14g-15a). Kevin Lankinen is 16-12-4 in net for Chicago this season, while Malcom Subban is 5-5-1.
The Predators are 58-50-(4)-10 all-time against the Blackhawks, including a 33-22-(3)-3 record at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds have earned at least a point in 14 of their last 17 games against the Blackhawks (12-3-2). Nashville has limited Chicago to two-or-fewer goals in 15 of their last 17 meetings.
On Jan. 9, 2020, the Preds defeated Chicago, 5-2, at the United Center in a game that featured goaltender Pekka Rinne's first career goal and John Hynes' first win as Nashville head coach. This will be the 123rd time the Predators and Blackhawks clash in the regular season, Nashville's most games played against a single opponent.
Notables Versus Chicago:
Mikael Granlund has 25 points (7g-18a) in 36 career contests versus the Blackhawks. Mattias Ekholm has a goal and seven assists in his last 13 games vs. the Blackhawks. He's recorded 14 points (2g-12a) and a +18 rating in 34 career games against Chicago.
Ryan Johansen has 23 points (6g-17a), including six multi-point games, in 38 career regular-season meetings with the Blackhawks. Viktor Arvidsson has recorded a point in five of his last 11 contests against Chicago (4g-2a), including his record-breaking 34th goal of the 2018-19 season on April 6, 2019, the most in a single season in Preds history.
Luke Kunin leads the Preds in points against the Blackhawks this season with four (1g-3a) in five games.
When You Go:
Protective masks are required to be worn appropriately over the nose and mouth at all times inside venues, unless actively eating or drinking in designated location. (Face coverings must be worn in all areas and can only be removed while actively eating or drinking. Face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations. When food is in hand and actively being consumed, the face covering may be removed. Guests holding beverages are asked to wear a facial covering between each sip.)
Bridgestone Arena has a no bag policy. Small, clear bags 9" x 7" x 2" or smaller will be permitted following X-Ray screening. Guests attending events with approved bags may experience longer entry times, for expedited entry please leave bags at home.
*Medical bags and parenting bags will be permitted following X-Ray screening. Backpacks of any kind are not permitted.
Video: Arena implements heath and safety protocols
Watch & Listen:
Coverage for this evening's 7 p.m. CT puck drop from Nashville begins at 6:30 p.m. CT with the Predators Live! pregame show on Bally Sports South hosted by Lyndsay Rowley and Terry Crisp. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Kara Hammer have the call on the television side, while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will broadcast on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network. Pregame coverage on the radio begins at 6 p.m. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
*All of Bally Sports South's channel locations and programming remains the same, just with a new network.
Listen to a Live Radio Feed (only active during the game broadcast window).
Watch a Live Stream of the game on the Fox Sports Go App or Watch on NHL.TV
*As we transition to Bally Sports, one of our primary goals was to ensure that local fans and subscribers everywhere still get their teams whenever and wherever they want. The FOX Sports GO app will remain functional until the transition is complete. Once the Bally Sports app becomes widely available, the FOX Sports GO app will update to the all-new Bally Sports app. If a fan has updates enabled, the app will transition automatically; if not, they will need to manually update the app.