Series (Game 1 of 5)

Nashville leads 4-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 16th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 17th
Game 3: Friday, March 14th
Game 4: Sunday, March 23rd
Game 5: Saturday, April 12th

Blackhawks 2

(13-3-4, 30 pts)

Predators 7

(9-9-2, 20 pts)

8:00 PM ET, November 16, 2013

Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

1 2 3 T
CHI 0 1 12
NSH 2 2 37

C. Smith (Predators - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

S. Weber (Predators - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

M. Mazanec (Predators - G): Saves: 39, Save Pct.: .951

Blackhawks-Predators Preview


The Chicago Blackhawks are the reigning Stanley Cup champions, and the return of a familiar face may only fortify their status as one of the best teams in the league.

With Kris Versteeg back, the Blackhawks look to keep rolling by beating the sputtering Nashville Predators for the seventh straight meeting Saturday night.

Chicago (13-2-4) is already the highest-scoring team in the league, averaging 3.58 goals. The Blackhawks have been even better during their current 7-0-1 stretch, scoring 4.63 per game.

The increased production showed few signs of slowing down Thursday, when they beat Phoenix 5-4 in a shootout while taking a season-high 52 shots through overtime.

Now, they've added another scoring threat in Versteeg, a member of Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup championship.

The Blackhawks re-acquired the winger from Florida in exchange for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen following Thursday's victory.

"Obviously, it put a smile on my face," said Versteeg, who spent his first three NHL seasons in Chicago. "I think I can fit in. I try to fit into whatever lineup I'm in, in whatever role the coach tries to put me in. This is a strong lineup and I'm going to have to compete hard every night for a roster spot, and just try to make this team better in whatever way I can.

"To see the old guys is always great ... To be on their team again is exciting."

The Blackhawks are certainly hoping he's productive again. Versteeg had 20 goals and 24 assists during the Cup-winning season before adding 14 points in 22 playoff games.

After winning the title, the Blackhawks traded him to Toronto in one of a series of moves to get under the salary cap.

"Nice acquisition for us," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Versteeg is very versatile in what he brings to our team. He can play all the positions up front. You can play him in all situations. Pretty handy guy, and pretty useful, so we like what he brings to the team.

"We had a good time together, a couple really effective years. It was tough to lose a player like him after winning the Cup."

Versteeg may also be hoping the familiar setting can get him going again. He had seven points with a minus-9 rating in 18 games for the Panthers after undergoing knee surgery in April.

Still, Patrick Kane -- the team leader with 10 goals and 19 points -- could be the catalyst if the Blackhawks are going to extend their six-game win streak over Nashville (8-9-2). He has five goals and three assists during that run, giving him 40 points in 32 career meetings, including the playoffs.

The star right wing enters this matchup with three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak.

The Predators ended a seven-game road trip by being outscored 17-2 while losing four in a row. They capped the jaunt with Friday's 4-1 defeat to Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh.

"We've got to be much better," said center Mike Fisher, who returned after missing four games because of a lower-body injury. "I've got to be much better, and we've got to find ways to score here. It's not acceptable."

Nashville's average of 2.05 goals is among the lowest in the league, and increased production from Patric Hornqvist would certainly help.

The right wing leads the team with a mere five goals, getting one in the past eight games after coming up empty on four shots against the Penguins.

The offensive issues may continue to be a glaring problem with top goaltender Pekka Rinne out indefinitely with a hip infection.