WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks host Predators on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Thursday’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Nashville enters this game having lost five of its last six games (1-4-1) and directly off a 6-2 loss to Boston on Tuesday, a day after the Predators fired head coach Peter Laviolette. Pekka Rinne allowed five goals on 35 shots against the Bruins in what was John Hynes’ debut as Nashville head coach after the Devils fired him earlier this season.

No team in the Western Conference has a longer playoff appearance streak than Nashville, a distinction Chicago recently held when they made nine straight postseasons from 2008-09 to 2016-17 – a run that included three Stanley Cup wins (2010, 2013, 2015). Chicago now could be headed towards a third straight season missing the playoffs.

Nashville’s current playoff streak started in Laviolette’s first season at the helm after the Predators did not renew Barry Trotz’s contract after the 2013-14 season.

Despite leading Nashville to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, the sluggish start to the 2019-20 season was enough for the Predators to move on from their second-ever head coach and bring in Hynes, whose head coaching experience consists of leading the Devils for 4-plus seasons (2015-16 to 2019-20) before being fired on December 3rd after New Jersey lost 17 of its first 26 games.

Chicago hit a hot streak to end 2019 with wins in five of its final six games (5-1-0), but has since lost two of three (1-2-0) in the new year, including its most recent game, a 2-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday.

After setting a career-high with 110 points last season, Patrick Kane has not slowed down. Kane leads Chicago in every major offensive category this season (24G-31A—55PTS), and is on pace for 102 points. He has almost twice as many goals as any other Blackhawk and 24 points more than any other teammate. Kane brings a four-game point streak into this one, with four goals and eight points during this stretch. He is also averaging 21:20 time on ice/game, 2nd-most on Chicago behind Duncan Keith.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks
WHERE: United Center
WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Predators-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PREDATORS
Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenViktor Arvidsson
Calle JarnkrokMatt DucheneMikael Granlund
Rocco GrimaldiNick BoninoCraig Smith
Yakov TreninKyle TurrisAustin Watson

Roman JosiYannick Weber
Dan HamhuisMattias Ekholm
Jarred Tinordi – Matt Irwin

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

BLACKHAWKS
Dominik KubalikJonathan ToewsDrake Caggiula
Alex DeBrincatKirby DachDavid Kampf
Alex NylanderRyan Carpenter – Patrick Kane
Matthew HighmoreZack SmithJohn Quenneville

Duncan Keith – Adam Boqvist
Erik GustafssonConnor Murphy
Olli MaattaSlater Koekkoek

Starting goalie: Corey Crawford

Brendan Burke and Pierre McGuire will call the action from United Center in Chicago. Paul Burmeister will anchor Thursday night’s studio coverage with Keith Jones and Mike Johnson.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.