The Nashville Predators have turned their fortunes around after recording at least a point in 10 of their last 11 games (9-1-1), and defenseman Mattias Ekholm is a major part of that surge. Ekholm has scored five goals in his last seven contests heading into the Predators’ opener a four-game homestand against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.
Ekholm recorded his third multi-point performance in seven outings with a power-play goal and an assist and also blocked three shots in a 4-3 shootout loss to Carolina on Sunday. The 27-year-old Swede has recorded seven points with the man advantage this season for Nashville, which has seen its third-ranked power play score 10 times in its last eight games. Chicago’s power play has answered a disastrous 2-for-33 stretch by converting eight times over the last six games, including twice in Monday’s 7-3 triumph against Anaheim. Rookie Alex DeBrincat secured his first career hat trick and added an assist versus the Ducks to increase his point total to 12 (nine goals, three assists) this month.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (12-8-3): Patrick Kane extended his point streak to seven games after setting up three goals versus Anaheim, giving him four goals and seven assists during that run. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Blackhawks have been successful in that stretch (5-1-1) to move into sole possession of fourth place in the Central Division. Artem Anisimov (team-leading 11 goals) hasn’t been too shabby in his own right, as his goal in Chicago’s 2-1 setback versus Nashville on Oct. 27 ignited a surge of 12 points (10 goals, two assists) in his last 13 games.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (14-6-3): Filip Forsberg saw his seven-game point streak halted by the Hurricanes, but the 23-year-old has flustered the Blackhawks in recent history. Forsberg scored his team’s lone goal in a 2-1 setback in the Windy City on Oct. 14, and recorded two goals and three assists as Nashville swept Chicago in the first round of the playoffs last season. Fellow forward Craig Smith scored in the most recent meeting with the Blackhawks and also tallied against Carolina on Sunday, giving him 10 points in his last 14 games.
1. Nashville G Pekka Rinne boasts an 8-0-1 mark at home this season and has permitted just seven goals during his four-game winning streak overall.
2. With Chicago’s Corey Crawford manning the net on Monday, fellow G Anton Forsberg is expected to get the nod versus the Predators with the team in the midst of five contests in a seven-game stretch.
3. Nashville C Kyle Turris has six points (two goals, four assists) in eight games since being dealt from Ottawa in a blockbuster three-team trade.
PREDICTION: Predators 4, Blackhawks 2