For the first time since Round One of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Nashville Predators are back in the Windy City.
The Preds and Chicago Blackhawks get together tonight (at 7:30 p.m. CT) at the United Center in a Central Division showdown that saw Nashville sweep the Hawks in last spring's meeting. The Blackhawks will undoubtedly be ready to face a Predators team that had a hand in an offseason full of changes in Chicago, but Nashville is also excited for the challenge to prove they still have this opponent's number.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Predators have now won two consecutive contests, picking up victories over Philadelphia and Dallas earlier in the week. It's those wins, Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette says, that are giving his club an early boost in October.
[Click here to see the Predators projected lineup for tonight's game]
"There's confidence, especially when you come back 0-2 and you're waiting to turn things around," Laviolette said. "We're just trying to get better every day, and I think we have. From the Boston game, where I didn't like it at all, to the Pittsburgh game where I thought we were more competitive, to an inconsistent game [against Philadelphia] to a much more complete game [against Dallas]."
Video: Preds and Hawks meet for first time since playoffs
Last Time Out:
After the game's first goal, the Predators stormed back to score four unanswered and topped the Dallas Stars, 4-1, for their second consecutive win. Leading the way was rookie defenseman Samuel Girard who scored his first NHL goal and added an assist to give him three points in two games.
Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and P.K. Subban also tallied for Nashville, while Pekka Rinne stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced.
Forsberg and Subban are tied for the team lead with six points apiece through four games, while Scott Hartnell has three goals for Nashville.
The Blackhawks suffered their first regulation loss of the season on Thursday night, a 5-2 defeat to Minnesota, but still have a 3-1-1 record through five games, including a 10-1 win over Pittsburgh last week.
Ryan Hartman leads the Hawks with eight points through five games, followed by Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane with seven each. Saad has found the back of the next five times already, while Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik have three goals apiece.
The Predators are 46-47-4-8 all-time against the Blackhawks and have picked up at least one point in six of their last 10 games at United Center. Nashville has played Chicago 105 times in the regular season, its most games against any NHL opponent (along with St. Louis). The two teams have also met three times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Chicago claiming the first two series (first round in 2010 and 2015) and Nashville taking last season's matchup.
Take It In:
Tonight's game from Chicago comes with a 7:30 start, with Predators Live Pregame beginning at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Tennessee. Willy Daunic, Chris Mason and Lyndsay Rowley have the call on the television side while Pete Weber and Hal Gill will be in the booth on 102.5 The Game and the Predators Radio Network.