(SportsNetwork.com) – The Chicago Blackhawks hope to bounce back from their
first loss of the season when they welcome the Nashville Predators for
Saturday’s Central Division clash at United Center.
The Blackhawks began the campaign with victories over Dallas and Buffalo
before dropping Wednesday’s overtime decision against visiting Calgary.
Mikael Backlund scored with just 24.8 seconds remaining in OT to lift the
Flames to the surprising 2-1 victory in the Windy City.
Although it only scored once, Chicago was clearly the better team on
Wednesday. The Blackhawks fired 50 shots on net compared to only 18 for
Chicago also scored late to send the game to the extra session, with Andrew
Shaw converting on the power play with 5:45 left in regulation. Corey Crawford
came up with 16 saves in the loss, but couldn’t snatch Backlund’s well-placed
wrister late in OT.
“It’s good to get a point,” said Crawford. “It’s just one of those games I
think that things just weren’t going in for us.”
Crawford will start again for the Blackhawks, who are playing the third part
of a four-game homestand tonight.
Chicago had a rough time against the Predators last season, losing four of the
five meetings while allowing Nashville to score seven goals on two separate
occasions. Still, the Blackhawks have won seven of the past 11 meetings in
this series overall and six of the last 10 encounters at United Center.
The Predators are off to a strong start under new head coach Peter Laviolette.
Like Chicago, Nashville has yet to lose in regulation this season and improved
to 3-0-1 with Friday’s 2-0 road win over Winnipeg.
Pekka Rinne made 31 saves to earn his 33rd career shutout and help the
Predators spoil the Jets’ home opener. James Neal, acquired from Pittsburgh in
an offseason trade, scored his first goal of the season and Mike Ribeiro added
a tally for Nashville, which played its first road game after going 2-0-1 on a
“I thought that it was a really good team effort,” said Rinne. “We battled
hard. Our backs were against the wall a few times there.”
Filip Forsberg recorded an assist on Neal’s goal, giving the 20-year-old Swede
a point in each game this season. He has one goal and four assists in 2014-15,
matching his point total from a 13-game run with the Predators last season.
The Preds will return home to Music City to open a three-game homestand
Tuesday against Arizona before hosting the Blackhawks in a rematch on
Thursday. Nashville will close the homestand next Saturday when Neal’s ex-
teammates from Pittsburgh visit Bridgestone Arena.