(14-8-5) Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks (14-9-4)
7:30 P.M. (CT) | United Center | #NSHvsCHI
TV: FS-TN | Radio: 102.5 The Game
The Nashville Predators conclude their three-game road trip tonight in the Windy City as they face the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since the two met in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's the first of five meetings between the Central Division rivals this season, and the first of two contests between the Preds and Hawks in the next three nights.
Nashville is coming off a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday evening, featuring two power-play goals from defenseman Roman Josi. Forward Viktor Arvidsson tallied the game winner late in regulation and Carter Hutton stopped 15 shots in the win.
Chicago beat Winnipeg 3-1 on Sunday. Patrick Kane is in the midst of a Blackhawks franchise-record 22-game point streak, having recorded 36 points during the streak.
The Predators have scored five power-play goals over their last two games, going 5-for-11 during that span (45 percent). The club has gone 7-for-18, or 39 percent, with the man advantage in the last five games. In the previous five games prior to that, the team went 0-for-15 on the power play.
Josi leads the Preds with 20 points on the season, including seven goals. Shea Weber, James Neal and Filip Forsberg are all tied for second on the club in points with 18; Neal paces the Predators with 10 goals. Pekka Rinne is 11-6-5 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 2015-16.
Ryan Ellis has nine career points (3g-6a) versus the Blackhawks, his most against any team in his career. Neal has five goals in his last three games against the Blackhawks (5g), while Weber has 14 career goals versus the Blackhawks, his most scored on any team.
Kane leads the Hawks and the NHL in points with 42, tallying 16 goals in the process. Artemi Panarin is second in points with 27 and defenseman Brent Seabrook has 20 points from the blue line. Goaltender Corey Crawford owns a 12-7-2 record with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
Chicago won three of the four contests between the two clubs last season, with three of the four contests being decided by one goal and two of them needing extra time. Neal led the Predators in scoring against the Hawks last season, as he scored five goals versus Chicago. All-time, the Preds are 43-40-12 in games with the Blackhawks.
Playoff Memories Come Flooding Back:
The last time the Preds were at the United Center, their 2014-15 campaign came to an end. Last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Blackhawks was one where Nashville felt they played well enough to win, but Chicago ultimately found ways to prevail. The Predators know it’s a new season and the past is in the past, but that doesn’t mean they don’t remember the handshake line last spring.
“We did a lot of good things; we played a game that we felt could win, and it ended up not going our way,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the series against the Hawks. “You see them go on to become Stanley Cup Champions and it’s hard to watch that back here. We want to be ready to play tonight. They took something from us that we fought all year to try to get to and they’re the ones that knocked us out, so there’s always that little bit of a burn inside.
“But that’s last year, this is this year. It’s a division game, first time we play them and I think our guys will be ready to play.”
Not only is it a contest against one of their fiercest rivals, it’s also the second half of a back-to-back situation for the Preds, who know playing a clean game against a Chicago team will be paramount for a chance at victory.
“The last thing we want to do against a team like this is turn the puck over through the neutral zone,” Laviolette said. “We can’t have them counter quickly while we’re going one way, where they’re taking the puck and going back the other way, so I think just making good decisions and short shifts. It was a tough night, you get in at 1:45 [a.m.] in the morning, guys go to bed at the off hour and we have to make sure to manage our shift lengths and stay fresh the entire night.”
If the Preds need an additional push late in the contest tonight, all they have to do is think back a few months prior to the postseason.
“It definitely still bugs us a little bit,” defenseman Roman Josi. “It was a huge series, so we definitely take stock in that. There’s some extra motivation tonight.”
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The Predators did not hold a morning skate on Tuesday after playing the night before in Boston. Below is the team's lineup from Nashville's 3-2 win on Monday night.
| ||Forwards || |
|Filip Forsberg ||Calle Jarnkrok ||James Neal |
|Colin Wilson ||Mike Ribeiro ||Viktor Arvidsson |
|Cody Hodgson ||Colton Sissons ||Craig Smith |
|Eric Nystrom ||Paul Gaustad ||Miikka Salomaki |
| ||Defense || |
|Roman Josi ||Shea Weber |
|Barret Jackman ||Seth Jones |
|Mattias Ekholm ||Ryan Ellis |
Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne is the expected starter in net with Carter Hutton serving as the backup.
Extra: (D) Anthony Bitetto, (F) Austin Watson, Gabriel Bourque (IR; upper-body), Mike Fisher (IR; lower-body)
| ||Forwards || |
|Teuvo Teravainen ||Jonathan Toews ||Marian Hossa |
|Artemi Panarin ||Artem Anisimov ||Patrick Kane |
|Bryan Bickell ||Dennis Rasmussen ||Andrew Shaw |
|Andrew Desjardins ||Marcus Kruger ||Ryan Garbutt |
| ||Defense || |
|Duncan Keith ||Niklas Hjalmarsson |
|Trevor van Riemsdyk ||Brent Seabrook |
|David Rundblad ||Michal Rozsival |
Goaltenders: Corey Crawford is the announced starter in net with Scott Darling serving as the backup.
Extra: (F) Brandon Mashinter, (F) Marko Dano
*Lines provided by @Mark Lazerus