Blackhawks vs. Predators Preview
NASHVILLE, TN (AP) - No one has scored on Corey Crawford in his last two games.
Pekka Rinne's recent opponents were having plenty of trouble scoring until the last period he played.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Blackhawks -110 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Predators. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 50% of more than 175 bets for this game have been placed on the Predators +102.
Crawford recorded his second consecutive shutout - and third of his career - Wednesday night by making 24 saves in a 4-0 home victory over Colorado. The rookie's 126-minute, 25-second scoreless streak helped the Chicago Blackhawks (24-18-3) win three straight to finish a four-game homestand.
No Chicago goaltender has posted three consecutive shutouts since Hall of Famer Tony Esposito from Jan. 19-27, 1972. The only longer scoreless streak in the past 2 1/2 seasons for the Blackhawks was Cristobal Huet's run of 143:31 in December 2009.
"He's been consistent all year for us," coach Joel Quenneville said of Crawford, 7-2-0 with a 1.55 GAA in his last nine games. "He's very confident. ... When you get on a roll, the puck looks big to you."
It appeared Rinne might allow only one goal for a sixth consecutive start Thursday night, leading 2-1 late in the third period at Florida. Rinne, though, gave up two in a 2:14 span en route to a 3-2 loss as the Predators had a season-high six-game win streak snapped.
"I think we did it to ourselves," Rinne said. "We gave the game away."
The loss dropped Rinne behind Crawford for the conference lead in goals-against average - 2.15 to 2.14.
Their teams have met three times this season, but the only one in which Rinne played came against Marty Turco during a 4-3 shootout win at home Nov. 13.
The result gave Rinne a 5-5-0 record and a 2.41 GAA in 11 appearances against Chicago.
Crawford split two games at the United Center - his only two career matchups with the Predators (23-14-6) - while playing against fellow rookie Anders Lindback. Crawford gave up Joel Ward's power-play goal with 26.7 seconds left in a 3-2 loss Oct. 13 and made 24 saves in a 4-1 win Dec. 22.
Jack Skille scored twice in that game to help the Blackhawks record their first win over Nashville this season and has four of his seven goals in the three matchups with the Predators.
Seven Nashville players have scored in the season series, including Cody Franson's tying goal in the third period of Nashville's home win in November.
The Predators, searching for a third straight home win, hope Martin Erat returns for this game or Sunday in Chicago. The winger, out the last nine games with an upper-body injury, has five goals and seven assists in his last 10 games against the Blackhawks.
Quenneville said Thursday that Turco might play in one of the two games. Turco, who has made five starts since Thanksgiving, is 3-0-2 with a 1.94 GAA in his last five against Nashville.
Predators All-Star defenseman Shea Weber is on a career-best, seven-game point streak but has one goal in his last eight games against Chicago. That lone score, however, was in the November shootout victory.
Another Predators defenseman, Shane O'Brien, won't play in the home-and-home set after being suspended two games for a high-sticking incident Thursday.
The Blackhawks are 1-3-1 in their last five road games.