After a two-game trip to the Northeast, the Nashville Predators return home for a lone tilt tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. It's the fifth and final meeting of the season between the division foes - Chicago has won the last three meetings after the Preds got a win on Opening Night in October.
Nashville is coming off a 2-1 loss to Montreal on Thursday night, with the Canadiens scoring the winner with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation. Defenseman Ryan Ellis scored the lone tally for Nashville, but later left in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return. His status for tonight's game is not yet known.
Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen are tied for the Nashville scoring lead with 49 points apiece. Forsberg's 26 goals pace the team and Johansen's 39 assists are also first in the category. Viktor Arvidsson has 21 goals and 45 points while defenseman Roman Josi has added 38 points from the backend. Goaltender Pekka Rinne is 26-16-6 in net; Juuse Saros is 7-5-3.
Chicago (41-18-5) will play for the second consecutive night after defeating the New York Islanders 2-1 in a shootout on Friday at United Center. Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in the offensive categories with 27 goals and 68 points. He's followed by Artemi Panarin with 57 points and Jonathan Toews with 46. Artem Anisimov has 22 goals on the season; Marian Hossa has tallied 21. Corey Crawford, who won over the Islanders last night, is 25-13-3 on the season; Scott Darling has gone 16-5-2, but was injured on Friday and will not be available tonight.
Video: Preds Web Team talks Hawks vs. Preds in Nashville
Update: Ryan Ellis (lower-body injury) and P.A. Parenteau (upper-body) will not play in tonight's game. Nashville's projected lineup may be seen here.
As the Preds look for two points against one of their fiercest rivals, here are three things to watch for:
Starting Another Streak?
Maybe Filip Forsberg is human after all.
For the first time in five games, the Preds winger wasn't able to find the back of the net as he was held pointless on Thursday night in Montreal, but the probability is still high that Forsberg could pick it right back up tonight. He still has 14 points (10g-4a) in his last seven games, and he leads the League with eight game-winning tallies since Jan. 5, twice as many as the closest challenger. Forsberg also has points in two-straight home games against Chicago.
Video: Anthony Bitetto looks to re-enter the Preds lineup
Frosty Time in Tennessee:
There's another streak on the line tonight for the Predators, and it pertains to dishing out free Frostys.
Nashville has scored at least four goals in seven consecutive home games - a franchise record - helping lead to a 9-2-3 record in their last 14 at home. The good news for fans is four goals equates to a free Wendy's Frosty, so if anyone is in the market for a frozen dessert, Bridgestone Arena is the place to be.
Video: Laviolette talks about the Preds hosting the Hawks
Saturday Night in Smashville:
As far as the regular season is concerned, it doesn't get much bigger than a Saturday night with the Blackhawks in town. It'll be interesting to see Nashville's response tonight after dropping their first game in over a week and seeing a six-game point streak come to an end on Thursday in Montreal.
There's no doubt Peter Laviolette will have his group amped up to face one of the top teams in the League - but even if it's a less than perfect start for the Preds, all will not be lost. Nashville has 10 wins this season when trailing after one period, the third best mark in the NHL. On the contrary, the Preds are 22-1-5 when leading after two periods on the campaign.
When You Go:
This evening's festivities begin with a Plaza Party presented by Lee Company at 5 p.m. CT. All fans in attendance at tonight's game will receive a Gold rally towel, courtesy of Fitzgerald Peterbilt, Crown Tent and Events, Dillard's and Hardee's. Bridgestone Arena doors for tonight's 7 p.m. faceoff open at 5:30 p.m.
Take It In:
Pregame coverage for tonight's contest begins at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Tennessee and 6 p.m. CT on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.