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Blackhawks-Predators Preview

No team has won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 18 years, and it's been much longer since a Chicago player won the Art Ross Trophy.

Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks are making their cases to end both droughts.

Chicago can set a new franchise record with a 12th consecutive victory by winning in Nashville for the first time in four visits when it begins a three-game trip against the Predators on Tuesday night.

Detroit is the most recent team to win consecutive Cup titles in 1997 and '98, but the Blackhawks (31-13-4) are making a strong statement as the team to beat again after winning their third championship in six years last season.

They've outscored opponents by 22 goals during an 11-game run that has matched the club record set from Feb. 15-March 6, 2013, before they hoisted the Cup later that year.

"In 2013, we had an unbelievable stretch," said Marian Hossa, whose empty-netter capped Sunday's 5-2 win over Montreal. "It's another new chapter and it's just nice to see everybody contributing in a different way. Overall, it's a winning attitude, so it's nice to see."

Everything seems to be clicking since Joel Quenneville tinkered with his lines and put Andrew Shaw on the first unit with Hossa and Jonathan Toews following a loss to Carolina on Dec. 27. Toews scored twice, and Shaw and Hossa each had a pair of assists against the Canadiens.

"We're on a bit of a roll right now," said Toews, who has 10 goals and eight assists over his last 16. "It's great to be playing the way that we're playing right now, given the fact that these are all very important games and it's a very busy time of year. We'd love to continue that pace and keep the momentum that we have right now."

Kane is a major reason for Chicago's surge to the top of the Western Conference. His franchise-record 26-game point streak Oct. 17-Dec. 13 made him the early favorite to capture the league's scoring title, and he hasn't slowed down since.

He had his first career regular-season hat trick and an assist in Friday's win at Toronto and a goal and an assist against Montreal, giving him 69 points that are 13 more than defending scoring champion Jamie Benn, who sits second in the race.

Kane is primed to become the first Blackhawks player to win the Art Ross Trophy since Stan Mikita in 1967-68, and his next goal would match his career high of 30 set in 2009-10. He had an assist in last Tuesday's 3-2 home win over Nashville, which has had some success against Chicago at home lately.

The Predators (20-17-8) have lost two of three meetings this season, but they beat the Blackhawks 5-1 at home Dec. 10. They also won the previous two matchups at Bridgestone Arena last year in a first-round playoff series Chicago won in six games.

Nashville enters this meeting after ending a five-game skid with Saturday's 3-0 win over Minnesota. Former Blackhawks goalie Carter Hutton made 29 saves with Pekka Rinne getting the night off, and Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi and Eric Nystrom scored.

"It's been tough. It's been frustrating," coach Peter Laviolette said. "The guys have been playing hard, putting in a hard effort and aren't seeing the results from it. So it's good to get a win. It was a big division game, division win and home win. There were a lot of good things about it."

Rinne went 0-3-1 with a 3.90 goals-against average during the losing streak, including the loss to Chicago, but could be back in goal for this one.

Corey Crawford made 41 saves Tuesday against the Predators and has a 1.56 GAA over his last seven overall.

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