Final
  for this game

Preds and Blackhawks clash in Chicago

Dec 22, 2010 - 4:12 PM
(Sports Network) - The Predators are getting healthy right before their big matchup with the Blackhawks, who are playing well as of late despite still missing two key players.

Nashville could have both Pekka Rinne and David Legwand on the ice as it tries to deny Chicago a third straight victory this evening at the United Center.

The Predators are hoping to avoid losing two straight for the first time since a four-game slide from Nov. 22-27, a losing streak they followed up by going 8-0-2 over their next 10 games before Saturday's 6-1 setback to the Kings. Nashville has a season-best five-game win streak come to an end after allowing a season-high for goals in a game.

Steve Sullivan had the lone goal and rookie Anders Lindback was pulled at the 9:59 mark in the first period after yielding three goals on nine shots. Mark Dekanich came on in relief and made 22 saves in his NHL debut.

"They won a few more battles early and took control of the game," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said.

Lindback made his eighth straight start in place of the injured Pekka Rinne, who has been practicing with the club and could get his first start tonight since Dec. 1 due to arthroscopic left knee surgery. He should at least serve as the backup after Dekanich was reassigned to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Sunday.

David Legwand could also return from a lower-body injury that has limited him to just one game since Nov. 18. He is questionable for tonight, while Patric Hornqvist and Cody Franson are both likely to return from two-game absences. Hornqvist has been out with an upper-body injury, while Franson was in British Columbia to attend the funeral of his grandfather.

However, Sullivan is questionable for tonight after missing the third period of the Kings game with a lower-body ailment.

The Predators could use all the healthy bodies they can get as they go for a third victory in as many games versus the Blackhawks this year. Lindback made 23 saves in a 3-2 victory at Chicago on Oct. 13 -- his first ever start versus the club -- while Rinne turned aside 29 shots in a 4-3 shootout home win on Nov. 13 that improved him to 5-5-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average in his career versus Chicago.

Nashville, which is one point up on Chicago for second place in the Central Division, has won four of its last six versus the Blackhawks overall, but has dropped seven of its last 10 at the United Center.

The Blackhawks go for their first three-game win streak since Nov. 26-30, but will do so without Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane. Hossa isn't expected to return until after the Christmas break due to a lower-body injury, while Kane's return from a left ankle injury is still unknown. Hossa has missed the last nine games, while Kane has sat out the last six.

Viktor Stalberg, though, is questionable for tonight after missing the last two games with a concussion.

Chicago skated to a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday, improving to 2-1-0 on a five-game homestand and 7-3-1 in its last 11 games overall. Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, giving him six tallies and seven helpers over his last nine games.

Fernando Pisani and Duncan Keith also scored for the Blackhawks, while Corey Crawford had 26 saves in the victory.

"These games are all about momentum," Keith said. "Whether it's shift to shift or period to period, it's all about momentum."

Chicago has won six of its last eight at home overall and will likely go with Crawford again tonight. His first career start versus the Preds came on Oct. 13 and he gave up three goals on 27 shots in the loss.