Nashville Predators (14-14-7) at Chicago Blackhawks (26-5-3), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators will need to start picking up some
victories on the road if they hope to return to the playoffs for a fourth
Two trips to Chicago in a week won't make that task any easier.
The Preds and Blackhawks will meet three times over the next seven days,
beginning on Monday night at the United Center.
Nashville enters play tied for 10th in the Western Conference with 35 points,
two back of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth spot. While it is playing
above .500 at home, the club is just 5-11-3 as the visiting club and has lost
five straight on the road.
Saturday's 1-0 setback in overtime at the Colorado Avalanche dropped the
Predators to 1-9-2 in their last 12 on the road and they now face a Blackhawks
club that is leading the West with 55 points and is 12-3-1 at home on the
"We've got to start getting two points on the road," said Predators forward
Brandon Yip. "You look at our games in the past and we can't get on the board
first. We have to have better starts going forward."
Nashville would love to duplicate its defensive effort in Denver as it didn't
allow its first goal until the 50-second mark of overtime, but the offense
failed to produce after logging at least three goals in five straight.
Pekka Rinne made 23 saves for the Predators, who have lost two in a row since
a three-game win streak.
Though Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing eight straight due to
an upper body injury, Mike Fisher did not play on Saturday because of a
bruised right hand and is questionable for tonight.
Chicago got back on track in a big way on Sunday afternoon despite once again
playing without Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. The Blackhawks erupted for
three goals in the game's first four minutes and rolled to a 7-1 win over the
Detroit Red Wings.
Brandon Saad and Dave Bolland both scored twice, with Bolland getting credit
for his first goal when Detroit defender Jakub Kindl put a backhand attempt
into his own net while trying to clear the puck away from danger at the 4:12
mark of the first.
"It's nice to get off to a good start," Saad said. "We got a couple of bounces
and got a couple of goals and it was nice to play with the lead."
Corey Crawford made 33 saves and had his shutout bid end with 33 seconds left
in the game, while Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists as Chicago pushed
its lead atop the Central Division over Detroit to 16 games.
The Blackhawks had lost three of four coming in and two of those setbacks came
against the Anaheim Ducks, who they now lead by four points for the most in
Sharp missed his 10th straight game due to a sprained left shoulder, while
Hossa has been out of the last five contests due to an upper body injury. Both
have returned to practice, though they did not make the trip to Detroit.
However, the two could return to action as soon as tonight's game.
At the very least, the Predators should get a look at the duo by Saturday,
when they will host the Blackhawks in the opener of a home-and-home set that
concludes in Chicago the following day.
The Blackhawks have won two straight over the Predators since a four-game
series losing streak, picking up a 3-0 win at Nashville on Feb. 10. Crawford
made 17 saves in the shutout, while Toews, Marcus Kruger and Patrick Kane all
Rinne made 24 saves for the Preds, who have won their last two trips to
04/01 10:52:25 ET
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