NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, November 16th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (13-2-4) at Nashville Predators (8-9-2), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Forward Kris Versteeg has already won a Stanley Cup title with the Chicago Blackhawks.
He has a chance to do it again as he begins his second tour of duty with the club on Saturday night in a road matchup with the Nashville Predators.
The 27-year-old Versteeg was acquired from the Florida Panthers on Thursday night along with minor leaguer Philippe Lefebvre for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen. He returns to the club he helped to a championship in 2010 as he posted six goals and eight assists in 22 playoff games.
Following that title, Versteeg was one of a handful of players the Blackhawks were forced to part ways with due to salary cap restraints as he was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He had two goals and five assists in 18 games with the Panthers this season.
"We are excited to bring Kris back to Chicago and are pleased to add a player with his experience and versatility to our lineup" said Chicago general manager Stan Bowman. "Kris is well-respected within our organization and will be able to make a seamless transition to our team because of his familiarity with many of our players and with coach (Joel) Quenneville."
Chicago announced it had acquired Versteeg moments after besting the Phoenix Coyotes 5-4 in a shootout on Thursday. Brandon Pirri tied the game three minutes into the third period and then netted the deciding goal in the shootout, with his fourth-round wrister trickling past Coyotes netminder Mike Smith.
"The was my first one up here," said Pirri about his shootout attempt. "I just wanted to get him moving because he's a big guy and tried to find a hole."
Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won a season-high four straight games and seven of their last eight games. Corey Crawford made 26 saves.
Chicago will follow up this road test with a home meeting on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks and backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is in line to get his fourth start of the season tonight and first since Oct. 29.
He is 14-11-2 with a tie and 2.75 goals against average in 28 career meetings with the Predators.
The Blackhawks have won each of their last six meetings with the Predators and three in a row in Nashville. That includes two straight shutout encounters.
The Preds have certainly struggled to score goals as of late, getting outscored 17-2 over a four-game slide. The current skid wrapped a seven-game road trip that Nashville began by going 2-0-1.
However, the Predators were unable to bust out of their slump last night, falling 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Gabriel Bourque registered the lone offense for the Predators, whose head coach had some harsh words for the club afterwards.
"There's a group of guys in there that have to give us more, plain and simple. We have too many guys that when it gets tough, they're feeling sorry for themselves. Well, I don't feel sorry for anybody right now," said coach Barry Trotz.
Marek Mazanec allowed four goals on 25 shots through two periods. Carter Hutton finished with eight stops in the third.
Hutton has gone 4-3-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .891 save percentage in 10 games (8 starts) this season as the Preds are currently without No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne due to a hip injury.
Hutton is likely to get the call tonight and he made one start with the Blackhawks last season, the first of his career.
11/16 10:39:57 ET