Blackhawks-Predators Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 10, 2013
Patrick Kane's red-hot play has only added to the Chicago Blackhawks' tremendous start to the season. The star right wing's production may be even more vital against the stingy Nashville Predators. The Blackhawks will attempt to remain the only team without a regulation loss Sunday night when they close a six-game trip against the Predators. Kane is among the NHL's scoring leaders with eight goals and 18 points and half of that production has come in the past five games during which he has six goals and three assists. "I don't know," Kane said. "Sometimes you just get on a roll and it keeps going. I just try to keep worrying about playing hockey and staying focused. It's been a fun season so far. The team's playing good. It's always nice scoring goals when you're winning." Kane surely enjoyed himself Thursday, scoring two goals and setting up another in a 6-2 rout of Phoenix. "We feel good right now," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We've been consistent in our games. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. It seems like the chemistry and the mood of the room is as good as you can get, and it's reflected in our play." Chicago (9-0-2) is trying to close its longest road trip of the season with a fourth straight victory, and Kane may continue to be key. The Blackhawks are 20-4-2 when Kane records at least a point against Nashville (5-2-4). He has 34 points in 37 career meetings - including postseason - with the Central Division rival, with five of them coming in two victories last season while he was held pointless in the four defeats. Corey Crawford will likely be back in net after he was rested for backup Ray Emery, who had 22 saves against the Coyotes. Crawford is 6-0-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average, but he had trouble with the Predators last season, going 2-3-0 with a 4.16 GAA. "We've been playing really great hockey," Crawford said. "Obviously, it's really tough to play the whole year like that. We've gotten on a good roll. This is going to be a tough team to play against. Nashville always plays a hard game. We just have to stick to our game throughout the whole 60 minutes." Nashville will try to best Crawford again and rebound from Saturday's 2-1 overtime loss at Minnesota, snapping its four-game winning streak. The decisive goal came on a power play after the referee whistled Paul Gaustad for a hand-pass penalty on a faceoff. "For me it was a poor call, a questionable call at a very important time of the game," coach Barry Trotz said. "I mean, come on. I don't agree with that at all." Pekka Rinne is expected back in net after getting the night off against the Wild. Backup Chris Mason made 30 saves in his second start of the season. It was another strong defensive effort for the Predators, who have allowed five goals during a 4-0-1 surge. Rinne has won four starts in a row, posting a 0.72 GAA with one shutout after starting the season 0-2-3 with a 2.67 GAA. He went 4-1-1 with a 2.66 GAA against the Blackhawks last season. David Legwand has nine points during a six-game scoring streak against Chicago, tallying five of them in the past three home matchups. The center, though, has been held to two points in his last six games overall and was kept off the scoresheet Saturday.
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