After a brief return home, the Chicago Blackhawks head back on the road. With the way they’ve performed lately, the Blackhawks might not mind another trip.
Playing its 12th game away from home in the last 14, Chicago faces the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
The Blackhawks started 0-3-1 on the road this season and lost eight of their first 12 road games but are 9-3-0 in the last 12, including a sweep of a recent three-game trip.
After winning road games versus Tampa Bay, Florida and Dallas by a combined 12-4 score, the Blackhawks (34-16-8) came back to the United Center on Sunday night and had a four-game win streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to Minnesota. Despite eight power-play opportunities and 45 shots, Chicago managed only Jonathan Toews’ second-period goal.
“We had scoring chances. We’re doing the right things out there,” defenseman Brian Campbell said. “Sometimes it doesn’t go in for you.”
While the Blackhawks have not scored more than two goals in four of their last five home games, going 1-3-1, they have tallied at least three in eight of nine on the road.
Since ending a 15-game stretch in which he scored three times, Toews has 11 of his team-best 22 goals since Jan. 14 and five in the last five games. Martin Havlat is on a five-game point streak with two goals and seven assists.
With Nikolai Khabibulin on injured reserve with an ailing groin, the Blackhawks will likely give Cristobal Huet a seventh straight start - a season high for Chicago goaltenders. Huet is 4-2-0 with a 1.52 goals-against average during his six consecutive starts and 8-3-0 with a 1.69 GAA in his last 12 road games.
He is 3-1-2 with a 2.02 GAA in six lifetime appearances against Nashville but 0-1-1 this season.
Although Chicago sits second in the Central Division with 76 points, it has lost 10 of 14 against division opponents and is 1-1-1 against the Predators, who are 6-6-3 against Central foes.
Nashville (28-28-4) broke an 0-2-1 skid Saturday night with a 1-0 overtime victory in St. Louis as Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for his fifth shutout of the season.
“It’s a prize for the whole team,” Rinne said. “The team defense today was really rock solid, and we didn’t give up too many quality chances.”
Rinne, who had lost his previous two starts, is 6-2-1 with a 1.85 GAA this month and has climbed among the NHL’s GAA leaders at 2.23. He is 2-1-0 with a 1.97 GAA in four career appearances versus the Blackhawks and won his only start against them this season, stopping 34 shots in a 4-1 home victory Jan. 10.
Rinne and backup Dan Ellis haven’t gotten much support this season from the Predators offense, which has scored a league-worst 138 goals and four in the last four games. Shea Weber’s overtime goal Saturday ended a 115:29 scoreless drought.
Chicago is 6-1-2 in its last nine against Nashville and 5-2-2 in the last nine trips to the Sommet Center.