NHL on NBCSN: Preds, ‘Hawks look to snap skids in series opener

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the Nashville Predators host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first round matchup at Bridgestone Arena with puck drop at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

For the second time in five seasons the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators will meet in the playoffs. Chicago used six games to dispatch Nashville in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs on the way to capturing the franchise’s first cup since 1961.

Both teams enter the playoffs trying to shake losing skids.

Chicago lost four straight to conclude the regular season while Nashville went 0-4-2 after clinching its first playoff berth in three seasons. The skid forced the Preds, who led the Central Division for much of the season, to finish second behind St. Louis.

The Blackhawks took the season series winning three games, but the Central Division foes have not met since Dec. 29.

Chicago expects to get a boost from the return of Patrick Kane, who has been cleared for ‘full participation’. Kane had 27 goals and 64 points prior to being sidelined with a fractured left clavicle on Feb. 24.

Antoine Vermette, who was acquired by Chicago from Arizona prior to the trade deadline, could be a healthy scratch in the series opener.

The Predators hope goaltender Pekka Rinne can regain his form, which saw him finish tied for second in the league with 41 wins. Rinne dropped his final four starts of the season posting a 3.42 G.A.A. and an .857 save percentage.

Nashville owned the Western Conference’s top home record at 28-9-4 this season while Chicago went 24-16-1 on the road.

(Related) Pressing Playoff Question: Can the Blackhawks flip the switch?