Predators, depleted but still winning, take on Blackhawks


A shorthanded Nashville Predators squad looks to stay hot when it visits the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

The Predators arrive in Chicago as winners of six straight, including a 5-2 triumph against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday as seven players and their entire coaching staff missed the game while in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

“I think that just proves the depth of this organization,” said Filip Forsberg, who scored twice against Colorado to tie Matt Duchene for the team lead in goals. “Obviously, we’re missing some key players. But guys are stepping up, not just from Milwaukee, but in the lineup as well.”

Offense has paced the Predators through their current run. Nashville has scored at least three goals in five of those wins and at least four in four of them. As a result, the team is tied for second place with the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division.

“We have played overall pretty well, and there’s a lot of good things,” Mikael Granlund told the Predators’ website. “Obviously we’re a little bit younger than we used to be. There’s a lot of younger guys, and they have really stepped up. Our identity has been really good the way we play, and I’m pretty sure it’s never going to be an easy night when you play against us on our forecheck.

“So, it’s been great. We have a clear identity right now, and we all know how we are supposed to play, so it’s been good.”

The Blackhawks have alternated wins and losses over their seven games so far in December. Chicago is coming off a 5-4 overtime win against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, eking out the victory after giving up the tying goal with three seconds left in the third period.

“It was great,” interim coach Derek King said. “The power play was clicking. We got the saves we needed. This is the atmosphere we need to have. Hats off to the guys; they earned it.”

The Blackhawks last posted consecutive wins since Nov. 12 and Nov. 17 against the Arizona Coyotes and Seattle Kraken — at the tail end of a four-game winning streak. The club is 5-6-0 since.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has started five of the Blackhawk’s past six games, winning four of those appearances – including Wednesday’s outing.

“He’s a big reason why we stay in a lot of these games and I think none of those goals are really his fault,” King said. “I think he’s a great goalie and really keeps us in these games, and I think we’re confident with him back there.”

–Field Level Media

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