Blackhawks searching for better 5-on-5 play

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
11:57
PM CT
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ESPNChicago.com
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Brian Elliott, Marcus KrugerJeff Curry/NHLI/Getty ImagesAfter averaging 2.3 goals in 5-on-5 play the past two seasons, the Hawks are at just 1.6 this season.

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks were the league’s premier 5-on-5 team over the past two seasons.

The Blackhawks scored 108 goals in 5-on-5 situations in 48 games in 2012-13 and went for 188 goals in 82 games last season. Their 296 goals and 2.3 average in 5-on-5 play led the NHL over that span.

So far this season, however, the Blackhawks haven’t been able to duplicate that 5-on-5 success. Chicago continued to struggle in its even-strength play Saturday, netting just one 5-on-5 goal in a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks have 11 goals in 5-on-5 situations through seven games this season.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has certainly tried everything to break his team out of its funk. He threw together new lines to start Saturday’s game and tried a variety of different ones throughout the game. No combination has clicked consistently.

The Blackhawks’ lone 5-on-5 goal came in the third period after Quenneville had made more line changes. He started the period with his lines being Brandon Saad/Jonathan Toews/Marian Hossa; Bryan Bickell/Andrew Shaw/Ben Smith; Patrick Sharp/Brad Richards/Kris Versteeg; and Daniel Carcillo/Marcus Kruger/Patrick Kane.

Sharp fed Versteeg in the slot and Versteeg scored at 2 minutes, 37 seconds of the third period.

“I thought some guys were better than other guys tonight,” Quenneville said. “We tried to get four lines [going,] get everybody going, a little balance, a little threat. That was what we were doing. We scored a goal and got some momentum back kind of comparable to the Nashville [Predators] game [Thursday]. Again, didn’t get the equalizer.”

Moving Kane to the fourth line was out of the ordinary for Quenneville, but Kane had been struggling. Kane was on the ice for two of the Blues’ goals, had one shot on goal and was a minus-6 Corsi in 5-on-5 situations through two periods.

Kane held himself accountable for his play.

“I don’t know if he’s trying to switch it up or send me a message or what,” Kane said of Quenneville's moves. “You see it happen a lot throughout the season. I know I should have probably been better tonight. He’s got to do what he’s got to do, I guess.

“I think I’m not really generating much chances. Obviously when you’re out there for two goals against, that’s not good either. Try to get better here as the season goes on, especially tomorrow.”

Kane is tied for second on the team with one 5-on-5 goal. Duncan Keith and Shaw share the team lead with two goals. Sharp, Hossa, Toews, Richards and Kruger have yet to score in 5-on-5 play.

The Blackhawks’ offensive woes have especially been apparent in their second periods. The Blackhawks have yet to score in that frame this season.

Kane though that went back to their 5-on-5 play.

“I don’t know if it’s just one thing,” Kane said. “Five-on-five all year we just haven’t been that great. I guess we’ll chalk it up to that.”

Quenneville said he was aware of his team’s second-period woes.

“We haven’t [scored],” Quenneville said. “We haven’t given up too many overall. Our generating in the second period, we definitely know that stat.”

Defenseman Keith also had thoughts on where he and his teammates weren’t getting it done so far. He was confident they could turn things around, and he believed it started with more traffic around the net.

“We’re just going to have to find a way and find a way to get some of those greasy goals where we’re in the front of the net, getting rebounds,” Keith said. “Not every goal is going to be a pretty play, just throw it at the net and get a rebound. It seems like we’re always looking for extra pass. I think even we do get our chances the goal is making some saves. Obviously lots we can work on.

“We’re a confident team. We know what we have in the room. It’s seven games in. They’re good teams we’re playing against. We need to be that. That’s all it is.”

Raanta, Quenneville disagree with Blues goal

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
10:58
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta and coach Joel Quenneville disagreed with a ruling that gave the St. Louis Blues a go-ahead goal in the second period Saturday.

With the game tied 1-1 late in the second period, Blues forward Maxim Lapierre shot the puck from the slot while skating toward the net. Raanta made an initial save. As Lapierre approached the net, he appeared to make contact with Raanta’s stick. Blues forward Ryan Reaves, trailing on the play, knocked the puck to the net. Raanta stopped the puck near the line. The initial ruling was no goal.

The NHL’s Situation Room reviewed the play and ruled the puck had crossed the line before Raanta got to it.

“Video review determined that the puck completely crossed the Blackhawks goal line in a legal fashion,” the NHL wrote in an explanation of the goal.

Raanta and Quenneville didn’t disagree that the puck went into the net, but rather that Raanta was interfered with, which allowed that result.

“I disagreed with the interpretation of how they described what happened,” Quenneville said.

Raanta had more to say about the matter.

“I was like 50/50 if it even went over to the line,” Raanta said. “I wasn’t sure about that. Then, I was just thinking about the guy just came with the stick and pushed me into the net. I don’t know how I should keep the puck out of my net. That’s pretty impossible to do. Of course, a little bit surprised, but that’s life and that’s hockey.”

Raanta skated to the blue line to try to argue his point after the ruling was made, but he returned to his net after a few seconds.

“Of course, I tried to say to the ref something, but it was a waste of time,” Raanta said. “I couldn’t say anything.”

The Blues scored less than two minutes later and went ahead 3-1. The Blackhawks cut the lead to one early in the third period, but St. Louis held on for a 3-2 victory.

F Daniel Carcillo out 2-plus weeks

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
10:32
PM CT
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo will miss two-plus weeks due to a lower-body injury he suffered during a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, coach Joel Quenneville said after the game.

Blues forward T.J. Oshie collided with Carcillo at 5:06 of the third period. Carcillo hit the ice and immediately grabbed his right knee. He stood up, slowly skated off the ice and went to the team's dressing room. He did not return to the game.

Quenneville said Carcillo will return with the team to Chicago and will be re-evaluated in the next few days.

"That's part of the game," Quenneville said. "Things happen. He'll come back strong."

Carcillo has suffered two previous knee injuries with the Blackhawks. He suffered a season-ending left knee injury with the Blackhawks during the 2011-12 season and required surgery. He missed 15 games with the Blackhawks due to a right knee injury during the 2012-13 season.

The Blackhawks signed Carcillo to a one-year deal in October after he played with the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers last season. He has one goal and has appeared in all seven of the Blackhawks' games this season.


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Blues top Blackhawks, snap skid at 2 games

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
10:02
PM CT
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ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz, Ryan Reaves and Dmitrij Jaskin all scored, and the St. Louis Blues snapped a two-game losing streak with a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.

Chicago took a 1-0 lead on Patrick Sharp's 5-on-3, power-play goal just 1:02 into the game, but Schwartz tied it late in the first with his team-high fifth of the season.

St. Louis scored twice in the final two minutes of the second period. A video review ruled that Reaves scored with 1:51 left, and then Jaskin scored on a rebound with 6 seconds remaining.

Chicago's Kris Versteeg took a nice crossing pass from Patrick Sharp and beat Brian Elliott with a high wrister to make it 3-2 at 2:37 of the third.


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Rapid Reaction: Blues 3, Blackhawks 2

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
9:56
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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ST. LOUIS – Here’s a quick look at the St. Louis Blues' 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at Scottrade Center:

How it happened: The Blackhawks got the start they wanted and scored a minute and 2 seconds into the game, but it would go downhill from there. The Blues tied matters at 12:15 of the first period on a goal by Jaden Schwartz. Ryan Reaves put the Blues ahead 2-1 when he scored off a rebound at the net at 18:09 of the second period. With six seconds before the second intermission, Dmitrij Jaskin tacked on another for St. Louis off a rebound. The Blackhawks were outshot 11-5 on goal in the second period. Patrick Sharp scored the Blackhawks’ first goal on the power play. The Blackhawks cut the Blues' lead to one when Sharp connected with Kris Versteeg for a goal at 2:37 of the third period, but St. Louis hung on after that. Hawks goaltender Antti Raanta made 28 saves. Blues goaltender Brian Elliott stopped 22 of 24 shots.

What it means: The Blackhawks dropped their second consecutive game and fell to 4-2-1 -- and 2-2-0 in the Central. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 3-3-1 and 1-0-0 in the Central. Coach Joel Quenneville made some line changes prior to the game, hoping to get some more offense, but Chicago again struggled to get production at even strength. The Blackhawks have scored 11 goals in 5-on-5 situations through seven games. Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo suffered a right-leg injury in the third period and did not return.

Player of the game: Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had two assists, was a plus-2 and led his team in ice time.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks were shut out in the second period. They haven’t scored a second-period goal all season.

What’s next: The Blackhawks have their first back-to-back set as they return home to play the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. The Senators also played on Saturday and lost at home in overtime to the New Jersey Devils.

W2W4: Blackhawks at Blues

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
2:08
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s what to watch for when the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues play at the Scottrade Center on Saturday:

• The Blackhawks are coming off their first regulation loss of the season. They lost 3-2 to the Nashville Predators on the road Thursday. The Blackhawks are 4-1-1 on the season.

• The Blues have gotten off to a slow start this season. They’re 2-3-1 and on a two-game losing streak leading into Saturday’s game.

• The rivalry between the Blackhawks and Blues has gone to another level after the two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season. The Blues won the first two games in overtime, but the Blackhawks took the next four games to win the series. The Blues won the regular-season series last season and finished ahead of the Blackhawks in the Central.

• The Blackhawks and Blues are getting the quantity of shots they want, but haven’t been cashing in on those opportunities. The Blackhawks are first in the league with a 39.2 shot-per-game average and 16th with 2.83 goals per game. The Blues are fourth with 33.8 shots and 26th with 2.13 goals.

• The Blackhawks will be without goaltender Corey Crawford for the third consecutive game due to an upper-body injury. Antti Raanta will start in Crawford’s place again. He is 1-1-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

• The Blackhawks’ lines are expected to be Patrick SharpJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa, Kris VersteegAndrew ShawPatrick Kane, Bryan BickellBrad RichardsBrandon Saad, Daniel CarcilloMarcus KrugerBen Smith. Their defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook, Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor van RiemsdykMichal Rozsival.

• The Blues’ lines are expected to be Jaden Schwartz - David Backes - T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko, Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - Joakim Lindstrom, Steve Ott - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves. Their defenseman pairings are expected to be Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo, Ian Cole - Kevin Shattenkirk, Barret Jackman - Jordan Leopold. Brian Elliott will start in net.

Blackhawks, Blues ready to reignite rivalry

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
1:55
PM CT
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ESPNChicago.com
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Patrick Kane,  Jonathan Toews Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Hawks-Blues rivalry was taken to another level when they met in the playoffs last season.
ST. LOUIS -- Don’t worry if it takes a period for the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues to reignite their rivalry and find the right level of intensity and anger for one another Saturday.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews guaranteed all those characteristics will be in place by the time the two teams get done with first meeting of the season.

“If I remember correctly, earlier in the season last year, it’s always the same questions when we play St. Louis,” Toews said after the team’s morning skate. “‘What’s the pace going to be like?’ It was maybe a slower start in that first game, but eventually all is not forgotten and it comes back pretty quick. By the end of it, it’s a playoff style even if it’s early in the season. We’ll be ready for that.

“It keeps getting better and better every time we play this team. Don’t expect anything less tonight.”

The Blackhawks and Blues have been building levels to their rivalry the last few seasons, and it was taken to another one when they met in the playoffs last season. The Blues pulled out consecutive overtime games to gain a 2-0 series advantage, but the Blackhawks responded with four wins to eliminate the Blues.

There was plenty of drama within the series as well. Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was suspended three games when his elbow and shoulder connected with Blues forward David Backes’ head in Game 2 of the series. A television mic caught an unidentified player saying, “Wakey, wakey,” to Backes while he was dazed from the hit. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith denied saying it. Backes missed two games with an upper-body injury.

Backes said he didn’t have any ill feelings toward Seabrook, but Backes is ready for a physical game.

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Crawford improving from upper-body injury

October, 25, 2014
Oct 25
12:54
PM CT
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was scheduled to skate in Chicago on Saturday after recently suffering an upper-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Crawford will miss a third consecutive game Saturday due to the injury. He last practiced Monday. He is 3-0-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and .926 save percentage this season.

“Crawford was to skate here this morning,” Quenneville said. “And we’ll know more tomorrow. Hopefully, he’s back on the ice tomorrow. He’s going much better.”

Quenneville said he doesn’t expect Crawford to play against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Quenneville said rookie goaltender Scott Darling could make his NHL debut against the Senators.

Antti Raanta will start against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. He is 1-1-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in his two starts in Crawford’s place.

Derrick Rose: Patrick Kane pushes me

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
7:09
PM CT
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose made it clear Friday that there’s a mutual respect between him and Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.

Rose and Kane will both look to put on a show at the Scottrade Center in the next few days as the Blackhawks and Bulls both happen to be in St. Louis at the same time. The Bulls play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday and the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Kane, a basketball fan, has often spoken highly and been supportive of Rose over the years. Kane has attended a number of Bulls games.

Rose may not be as huge of a hockey fan and isn’t seen at many Blackhawks games, but Friday he sounded like someone who has seen Kane play enough to understand his ability.

“He’s a talent the way that he skates, how he is on the ice and the way he is able to play an aggressive game and still be productive in games,” Rose said after the Bulls’ shootaround Friday. “Even if the physicality of the game is a little bit more than he expects, he’s still able to play.”

Kane and Rose share a lot of the same fans because of their entertaining styles. The two players have also been linked together because they’re within a month of each other in age -- Rose turned 26 on Oct. 4 and Kane will turn 26 on Nov. 19 -- and both began their professional careers in Chicago at nearly the same time. Kane was a rookie in the 2007-08 season and Rose was one in the 2008-09 season.

Rose said he’s been following Kane’s career since early on and has even motivated by seeing what Kane has done with the Blackhawks.

“I think everybody knows Patrick Kane for what he did so young,” Rose said. “I know I’ve been hearing about him since we came in together. I’m a fan. He’s pushing me along with him. He’s pushing me.”

Kane and Rose also have something else in common -- the same building address. Both own condos in the Trump Tower in downtown Chicago. Rose said he rarely sees Kane, though.

“I live in his building with him and I see his mom more than I see him,” Rose said. “Who knows what he’s doing? You just know he’s doing something right. He getting where he’s supposed to be. Career-wise, he’s playing like he’s supposed to be.”

Chances go begging in Hawks' loss

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
11:09
PM CT
By Jim Diamond
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago Blackhawks loseJohn Russell/Getty Images"They were pretty good when they got the chances," Hawks goalie Antii Raanta said of the Predators.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It will show as a 3-2 loss, but it was not because the effort level and chances weren’t there Thursday night. The Chicago Blackhawks just came up one goal short of what James Neal put on the scoreboard for the Nashville Predators.

Those scoring chances were there, particularly in the third period, when the Blackhawks put 17 shots on Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.

“It’s early in the season, but we know every division game is important, it doesn’t matter who we play,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “It’s a tough one to let it slip away. We wanted to play that tough, simple, hard-nosed road game tonight. I think we did that, like I said, at times, and we just didn’t score enough to win the game.”

The Blackhawks entered Thursday averaging a league-high 40.6 shots on goal per game. Even with the third-period push, they managed just 32 against the Predators.

Neal’s natural hat trick paced the Predators, who along with the Blackhawks entered the game as the only teams in the NHL yet to suffer a regulation loss this season.

Chicago scored the game’s first goal for the fifth time in six contests, but unlike on the previous four occasions, could not come out with the victory, thanks in large part to a couple of big momentum goals from Neal.

“It’s always different playing home and road games, so of course the home team is coming a little bit harder always,” Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta said. “We lost a couple of pucks so they got a couple chances from there, and they were pretty good when they got the chances.”

With just under 48 seconds remaining in the first period, Neal tied the game 1-1, but it was his second goal which really hurt the Blackhawks.

Chicago was awarded its only power play of the game at 13 minutes, 7 seconds of the second period, and spent nearly the entire two minutes inside Nashville’s zone. During the sequence, the Blackhawks recorded three shots on goal, saw two miss the target and another two blocked by the Predators. After the penalty to Mattias Ekholm expired, Chicago managed another shot and another blocked attempt before Nashville was able to ice the puck and use its lone timeout to rest weary players.

“You try to limit as much as you can putting the other team on the power play and hope that you can get through the penalty kill,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought our guys did an unbelievable job. You see them sacrificing their body and blocking shots. Some of the saves Pekka made, he just got better as the game went on.”

Less than a minute after that timeout, Neal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot that beat Raanta on the far side.

“That’s two minutes' zone time, we definitely did everything, icing at the end of it. Lot of good things on it,” Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a big goal ... a big goal.”

Prior to Thursday, the Blackhawks hadn't had fewer than four power plays in a game this season.

Neal, the talented winger acquired in a draft-day trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, finished the hat trick with a score at 1:52 of the third period.

“Coming to a new team and everything, you want to do so well,” Neal said. “You’ve just got to wait for your chances and I think everything kind of fell into place tonight.”

Andrew Shaw's goal at 12:36 of the third drew the Blackhawks within one, but they could not find the equalizer.

Quenneville pulled Raanta in favor of an extra attacker with just under 1:30 remaining. As with their lone power play, the Blackhawks had extended zone time while skating 6-on-5, but they managed to get only two shots through on Rinne.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- James Neal scored a natural hat trick on his bobble head night, and the Nashville Predators edged the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night to become the last NHL team still unbeaten in regulation this season.

The two Central Division rivals came in as the only teams yet to lose in regulation. They played into overtime six nights earlier in Chicago with the Blackhawks winning 2-1.

The Predators earned points in their seventh straight game before a sellout crowd, continuing their best start since the 2010-11 season when they got points in each of their first eight.

For Neal, it was the fifth hat trick of his career. Acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh in June, Neal has five goals in four games. Filip Forsberg had two assists.

Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw scored for Chicago.


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Rapid Reaction: Predators 3, Hawks 2

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
9:42
PM CT
By Jim Diamond
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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video
 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

How it happened: The Predators mounted a strong surge just past the midway point of the first period, putting four shots on goaltender Antti Raanta and seeing two Shea Weber slap shots blocked by Andrew Shaw and Daniel Carcillo, respectively -- only to see Blackhawks forward Ben Smith score the game’s first goal less than 30 seconds later. James Neal sent the teams into the first intermission tied 1-1 when he scored with less than a minute remaining in the frame. Neal’s second of the game came in the second period, just over a minute after the expiration of Chicago’s only power play of the game, during which the Blackhawks spent nearly the full two minutes in Nashville’s zone but were unable to get one past Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Neal completed his fifth career hat trick at 1:52 of the third with an easy tap-in on the left side. Shaw closed the gap to one at 12:36 when he swatted the rebound of his own shot out of midair and past Rinne.

What it means: Nashville is now the lone NHL team not to have lost a game in regulation this season. The Predators sit atop the Central at 5-0-2, with the Blackhawks sitting three points behind at 4-1-1. Chicago struggled against the Central last season, going 13-13-3, and lost four of five against Nashville. Chicago lost for the first time this season when scoring first.

Player of the game: Neal consistently worked his way into open shooting positions and made the Blackhawks pay by recording the natural hat trick. Nashville acquired the talented winger in a draft-day trade in June with Pittsburgh in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

Stat of the game: Chicago had just one power-play opportunity, three fewer than in any game so far this season. That one power play yielded several chances, and the Hawks spent most of the two minutes applying pressure in the Nashville zone, putting three shots on Rinne. The Blackhawks have failed to record a power-play goal in two games this season, both against Nashville.

What’s next: The Blackhawks complete their quick two-game road trip Saturday, when they face the St. Louis Blues for the first time this season. A quick turnaround follows with a Sunday home game against the Ottawa Senators.

Early Central showdown for Hawks, Predators

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
2:46
PM CT
By Jim Diamond
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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Blackhawks/PredatorsDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsThe Blackhawks will face Pekka Rinne for the first time this season Thursday night in Nashville.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Playing their first road game since the season opener in Dallas, the Chicago Blackhawks face the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. It is the first of two Central Division matchups for the Blackhawks on this short road trip, which will also see them face the St. Louis Blues Saturday.

Thursday night’s game matches the only two teams which have yet to lose a game in regulation time this season. Nashville and Chicago have played once already, an overtime win for the Blackhawks Saturday night at the United Center.

While most of the skaters on both teams from Saturday night will be the same, the goaltenders for each will be different. Corey Crawford did not make the trip with the team due to the upper-body injury that kept him out of Tuesday’s win over the Flyers, giving Antti Raanta his second consecutive start tonight. Raanta is 1-1-0 in two career games against the Predators.

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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
6 2 4 -1
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 3
AssistsB. Saad 5
+/-J. Oduya 3
GAAC. Crawford 1.66