The new year has not opened quite how the Chicago Blackhawks would have liked.
The Blackhawks look to put an end to their eight-game losing streak and pick up their first win of 2008, when they visit the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
Chicago (19-21-4) lost its final game of 2007, a 3-2 overtime loss to Los Angeles on Dec. 30, and has gone 0-6-1 since the start of January. The Blackhawks - owners of the second-worst record in the Western Conference - and Buffalo are the NHL’s only winless teams this month.
Chicago had several opportunities to end its skid in Friday’s home matchup against Minnesota, but once again came up short. The Blackhawks outshot the Wild 43-16, but lost 5-2. Chicago, which is in the midst of its longest losing streak since dropping 10 straight from Jan. 4-26, 2007, has been outscored 33-14 during its current slide.
The Blackhawks are 2-14-3 over the last two Januarys.
“We’re working hard, but pucks don’t seem to go in for us,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said.
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin made only 11 saves on Friday, and stopped just three of six shots in the second period.
“We played hard and had enough chances to win.” Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. “I hate to blame Habby (Khabibulin) for the loss. But he knows they’re not good goals.”
Khabibulin has been in net for every game but one during the losing streak, posting a 3.36 goals-against average in those contests. He had a season-high four-game winning streak immediately before the skid.
He has also played in each game against the Predators this season, going 2-1-1 with a 3.60 GAA. Khabibulin is 10-10-1 with one tie and a 3.18 GAA lifetime versus Nashville.
Patrick Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks with 21 goals and is second on the team with 34 points, has been held without a point in a season-high four straight games. Sharp will look to get back on track against the Predators, against whom he has four goals and an assist this season.
Rookie Patrick Kane leads Chicago with 30 assists and 39 points, but has also been held without a point in his last four games. He has a goal and four assists against Nashville in 2007-08.
The Predators (21-19-3) lost to Columbus 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday night, snapping their 12-game winning streak over the Blue Jackets.
“The more times you play, sooner or later (it was going to happen),” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Both teams played really well, played a real solid game. We had one turnover and they capitalized on it.”
The Predators have still won seven of their last 11 games overall, and have not dropped consecutive games since losing five straight Dec. 10-19.
Alexander Radulov scored his 13th goal of the season Saturday, giving him six goals in his last nine games. Radulov has three goals and four assists against Chicago this season.
Chris Mason stopped 28 shots in the loss to Columbus. He is 8-4-2 with a 2.45 GAA lifetime against Chicago.