Preview: Predators at Blackhawks
The Nashville Predators have been either white-hot or ice cold away from home this season, but they are picking up steam again and will look to extend their road point streak to five games when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Predators have answered a six-game slide by earning points in five straight overall (4-0-1).
Nashville set a franchise record by winning its first eight games on the road, only to lose its next 10 away from home prior to its current run that featured dominating wins over Toronto and Montreal. "It's not long ago when we really struggled on the road, so these are huge for us," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "It gains some confidence for the group." Nashville will be making its fourth stop on the six-game trek against Chicago, which is in the midst of a rugged stretch facing six of the hottest teams in the league. The Blackhawks, who have split two meetings with the Predators this season, are 3-2-1 since the Christmas break after opening a three-game homestand with a 4-3 loss to Calgary.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TVAS, Sportsnet360, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet Pacific
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (26-15-3): Top-line forward Filip Forsberg returned to the lineup following a 17-game absence in Monday's 4-0 win at Toronto and had three shots on goal. Despite his lengthy absence, Forsberg is tied with Craig Smith for the team lead with 14 goals and has scored at least 26 times in each of the last four seasons, including back-to-back 30-goal campaigns from 2015-17. Rinne had allowed 11 goals over three appearances before earning his third shutout in Monday's 4-0 win over Toronto and owns a 3-1-1 record with nine goals allowed in five starts versus Chicago in the past two seasons.
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (16-22-7): Star forward Patrick Kane continued his torrid stretch since returning from the Christmas break, amassing seven goals and 12 points in the last six games after scoring once and setting up another tally in the loss to Calgary. Kane had an assist in each of the first two meetings with Nashville this season, part of a stretch in which he has piled up 27 points in 19 games since Dec. 1 to boost his team-leading totals to 24 goals and 32 assists. Rookie netminder Collin Delia has lost his last two starts after winning his first three and has faced a staggering 208 shots in his five appearances.
1. Predators D Mattias Ekholm has a goal and an assist in each of the past two games, giving him 30 points -- five shy of his career high.
2. Blackhawks D Erik Gustafsson has eight assists during a six-game point streak.
3. Forsberg has five goals and 10 points in 19 games against Chicago.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Blackhawks 2