After a brief, one-game road trip concluded with a 3-2 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Nashville Predators prepare to open up shop for a three game homestand.
The Chicago Blackhawks are Bridgestone Arena's first visitors of the week, as they face off with the Preds tonight at 7 p.m. CT. It's the first of four meetings between the division rivals - the Hawks will be back in Nashville in less than a month before the Preds visit the Windy City twice in 2020.
Nashville enters the week on a three-game win streak, outscoring those opponents by a tally of 13-3. The dynamic offense has been catalyzed largely by the defense, with Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis leading the charge. Josi racked up two goals and six points last week, and the tandem became the first teammate defensemen to each record 13 or more points through 11 games in a season since Phil Housley and Fredrik Olausson did so in 1992 for the Winnipeg Jets.
As it stands, the Predators average an NHL-best 4.09 goals per game - just over a goal higher than the league average of 3.03. Their offense has eclipsed the five-goal mark in five of their 11 games and have not been shutout thus far.
Tonight, they'll have the opportunity to win their eighth of the season against a Chicago Blackhawks team that's won just once in its last five outings.
The Preds practiced at Centennial Sportsplex on Monday afternoon, and both Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg made strides to recover from their respective lower-body injuries. While neither played in Saturday's contest against Tampa Bay, Duchene practiced with the team in a full capacity. Forsberg practiced with the team in a non-contact jersey for the first time since sustaining his injury two weeks ago.
Video: Ellis' OT goal lifts Predators past Lightning
Last Time Out:
After goaltender Pekka Rinne posted a shutout against Minnesota - the 56th of his career - Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette opted to give Juuse Saros the nod on Saturday. Saros tallied 28 saves en route to his first win of the year.
The Preds took an early 1-0 lead courtesy of Calle Jarnkrok, but ended up falling behind 2-1 in the second period.
"Guys didn't quit," Laviolette said. "They kept playing, coming from behind and we got ourselves a win. I think the fact that we did the right things on the ice and played a good 200-foot game was a real positive."
The late-game heroics were provided by a dynamic defensive duo in Josi and Ellis. With just six minutes remaining, Josi managed to knot the game up at two. In overtime, it was Ellis's turn to find the back of the net and solidify their seventh win of the season.
Josi's goal was his fifth of the season, contributing to a total of 13 points. He sits atop the team with Ellis, who has two goals and 13 points. Despite sitting out Saturday's contest, Duchene has posted two goals and 11 points. He's trailed by Ryan Johansen's two goals and 10 points.
The Blackhawks (3-5-2) may not have an eye-opening record, but they're two days removed from a big 5-1 win at home against the Los Angeles Kings. Patrick Kane continues to lead the way for the Hawks; his three goals and nine points pace the team. Dylan Strome and Alex Debrincat have complemented Kane with three goals and seven points apiece. Goaltenders Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford have split their 10 games evenly, posting a .935 and .888 save percentage, respectively. If Chicago chooses to ride the hot hand, Lehner would get the nod after his 38-save performance against the Kings.
The Predators are 51-49-(4)-9 all-time against the Blackhawks, including a 29-21-(3)-3 record at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds have earned at least a point in six of their last eight games against the Blackhawks (5-2-1). Nashville has limited Chicago to two-or-fewer goals in seven of their last eight meetings.
This will be the 114th time the Predators and Blackhawks clash in the regular season, Nashville's most games played against a single opponent.
Notables Versus Chicago:
Ryan Johansen has 22 points (5g-17a), including six multi-point games, in 29 career regular-season meetings with the Blackhawks.
Mattias Ekholm has four assists in his last four games versus the Blackhawks. He's recorded 10 points (1g-9a) and a +11 rating in 25 career games against Chicago.
Viktor Arvidsson has scored in each of his last two contests against Chicago, including his record-breaking 34th goal of the 2018-19 season on April 6, 2019, the most in a single season in Preds history.
When You Go:
Arena doors open at 5:30 p.m. CT ahead of tonight's 7 p.m. puck drop.
Tonight, the Preds Foundation is raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The Foundation will be selling light up lightsabers for $10 and LLS Mystery Pucks for $25 at the Foundation table (main concourse near Section 106/107). Several of tonight's auction items will benefit LLS - to bid text Preds to 52182. Actor, musician and comedian Chip Esten will perform a special song that benefits LLS during the first intermission and will take pictures with fans at the Schenk photobooth on the main concourse by section 110 during 1st and 2nd intermission for donations to LLS. Also tonight, we are joined by this year's LLS Honored Heroes, John Martin, Tarin and their families.
Gift of Life marrow registry will be on the main concourse by Section 120 swabbing cheeks for the bone marrow registry.
Fans may also sign up for Team Smash and walk with the Preds Foundation this Friday night (11/1) at the Light the Night walk. To register and for more information, visit lightthenight.org. To donate to the cause, text SmashCancer to 51555.
Watch and Listen:
Coverage for tonight's contest begins with Smashville Live on Fox Sports Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. with 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 side begins at 6 p.m. CT with Darren McFarland. For broadcast information and channel locations throughout the country, click here.
If the Predators are playing hockey, you can count on the game being on at Preds Approved Bars & Restaurants. Locations throughout Tennessee may be seen by clicking here.
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