NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 7th (All times Eastern)
Nashville Predators (15-16-8) at Chicago Blackhawks (28-5-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - While the Nashville Predators are running out of time to get in the playoff race, the Chicago Blackhawks could have a postseason wrapped up by the end of Sunday's home-and-home finale at United Center.
The Blackhawks, who recorded a 1-0 regulation win Saturday in Nashville, have 60 points on the season and are one point away from becoming the first NHL team this season to clinch a playoff spot. Any result other than a regulation loss on Sunday would do the trick for Chicago, which will be making its fifth straight appearance in the postseason.
Chicago is also closing in on a Central Division title, as it's currently 17 points in front of the Detroit Red Wings for first place.
Nashville, meanwhile, is sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference and four points out of a playoff spot. The Predators have nine games left in the regular season and seven of those contests are against teams above Nashville in the standings, including two against Chicago.
Chicago improved to 3-0 against the Predators this season in Saturday's low- scoring battle in the Music City. The 1-0 decision was the fourth straight win for the Blackhawks in the series and the seventh in the last 11 meetings. The Blackhawks also have won four of the last six encounters on home ice.
The Preds enter Sunday riding a six-game road losing streak and haven't won outside of Nashville since beating Dallas on March 12. The Predators are just 5-11-4 on the road this season, while Chicago is sporting a superb 13-3-2 mark at home.
Ray Emery made Bryan Bickell's first-period goal hold up as the winner on Saturday. Emery only needed to make 20 saves to record his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career.
"Rock solid. He did what he had to do," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said about Emery. "I thought he was in control around the net."
Pekka Rinne stopped 29 shots for Nashville, which has dropped two straight and five of its last six overall.
"We had some great chances at different parts of the game, especially late. I don't know how we didn't bury a couple of those," said Predators forward Mike Fisher.
The Preds played their third straight game without forward Gabriel Bourque, who has been sidelined since suffering an upper body injury against Chicago on Monday. Bourque, who is leading Nashville with 11 goals, is considered day-to- day.
Chicago forward David Bolland missed Saturday's game against Nashville and is questionable for today's rematch. Bolland has seven goals and seven assists in 30 games this season.
04/07 11:04:42 ET