UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
NHL

Blackhawks-Predators Preview

The Nashville Predators lead the Chicago Blackhawks by one point atop the Central Division, thanks in large part to the league's best home record.

Fresh off a victory over another division rival, the Predators attempt to tie the longest home winning streak in franchise history Saturday night against the Blackhawks.

Nashville (17-6-2) is 11-1-1 at home after needing 22 games to win that many at Bridgestone Arena last season.

The Predators' 23 points there in 2014-15 are tied with Los Angeles and Tampa Bay for the NHL lead.

They've won seven straight on home ice with each game decided by one goal, including Thursday's 4-3 victory over St. Louis.

One more will tie Nashville's team record of eight consecutive wins set from Jan. 6-Feb. 8, 2007.

Matching that mark requires following the victory over the Blues - currently third in the Central - with one versus Chicago (17-8-1).

"It would be big," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "It would be a statement to beat them both in a row like that."

The Predators' success has come despite a power play that is 28th in the league at 11.7 percent. The unit has failed on all 40 attempts at home since going 1 for 3 in a season-opening win against Ottawa on Oct. 9.

"The deeper you go into the season, if nothing gets better than something has to change," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "But we're working on it and we're trying new things. As long as our 5-on-5 play stays strong, I think we'll still be happy with our game."

Nashville must be happy with its 4-0-1 record in its last five overall meetings with the Blackhawks, winning 3-2 at home Oct. 23 behind James Neal's hat trick.

The left wing has four goals in 18 games since, and none in eight straight. However, he's scored nine in his last 10 meetings with Chicago.

Pekka Rinne, who figures to be in net, has a 1.66 goals-against average while starting each game of the home winning streak. He's also won four starts in a row against the Blackhawks with a 2.25 GAA.

Chicago, though, has won eight of nine and five in a row after Brandon Saad scored with 27 seconds left to complete a rally in a 4-3 win over Montreal on Friday.

"I think there was composure," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You could sense on the bench there was no desperation.

"We were heading in the right direction. Let's be positive in finding a way."

Patrick Kane has eight goals and as many assists in 10 games after assisting on Saad's winner. The star right wing, however, doesn't have a point in three consecutive meetings with Nashville after scoring a goal in four straight.

It's unclear if Antti Raanta will start in net on back-to-back nights for the first time this season. He's stopped 78 of 82 shots while winning two starts since Corey Crawford hurt his left leg at a concert.

Raanta has lost his last two meetings with the Predators, allowing nine goals on 59 shots.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More NHL

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.