Blackhawks And Predators, Playoff Rematch
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(AP) — The last time the Nashville Predators visited Chicago, the Blackhawks rallied for an improbable playoff victory that helped spark their run toward a Stanley Cup championship last season.
These Central Division foes meet for the first time since that Western Conference quarterfinal series Wednesday night at the United Center.
With Chicago trailing 4-3 late in the third period and the series tied at 2, Patrick Kane scored with 13.6 seconds remaining to force overtime and Marian Hossa tallied at 4:07 of the extra period to give the Blackhawks a 5-4 victory April 24.
The Blackhawks (1-1-1) then won Game 6 in Nashville to clinch the series, and used that momentum to beat Vancouver, San Jose and Philadelphia en route to their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Many on the Chicago roster believe the Game 5 victory was a turning point for the team.
“Thirteen seconds left to tie and keep us in the series, probably,” Kane said. “Going to Nashville down 3-2, that would be a tough game to win.”
Nashville’s Game 5 and series loss to the Blackhawks could provide some motivation for the Predators, who have lost seven of nine regular-season trips to Chicago.
The Predators could be without starting goaltender Pekka Rinne after he left early in the third period of Saturday’s 4-1 season-opening win over Anaheim with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
“I know it’s not anything major,” coach Barry Trotz said of Rinne’s injury.
Anders Lindback, who stopped all seven shots he faced during his NHL debut in place of Rinne, could make his first start Wednesday.
“It’s my job to be ready and just go out there and try to do my best,” said the 22-year-old Lindback, a seventh-round pick of the Predators in 2008.
Whomever gets the call in net will try to help Nashville start 2-0 for the second straight season.
“We need to make sure we’re getting points at the start and make it easier on us down the road,” said captain Shea Weber, who had a pair of assists against the Ducks.
Former Blackhawk Steve Sullivan had a goal with an assist versus Anaheim, but has one assist in his last six games against Chicago.
Hossa had two goals and Kane scored his first of the season in Chicago’s 4-3 win at Buffalo on Monday.
Though Hossa has a goal and an assist in his last nine regular-season games versus Nashville, he has three and two assists through three games this season.
“Hossa has been playing very well,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Kane has four goals and eight assists in 10 regular-season home games against the Predators.
Chicago is expected to be without defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who reportedly received a two-game suspension for a hit into the boards on Buffalo’s Jason Pominville. The Sabres winger left on a stretcher and was diagnosed with a concussion.
“I thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit,” Hjalmarsson said. “Hopefully, he’ll get back as soon as possible.”
After Corey Crawford shook off a rough start to make 32 saves Monday, veteran Marty Turco could be back in net.
The longtime Dallas goalie allowed seven goals in the first two games of the season, but is 12-6-1 with a tie and 1.90 goals-against average versus Nashville.
By Jeff Mezydlo, STATS Senior Writer
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