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Blackhawks host Predators in first game since Corey Crawford’s concussion

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Cam Ward becomes Chicago’s new starter with Collin Delia serving as his backup on an “emergency basis.”

Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators for the first time this season Tuesday. Both teams played once already this season, with Nashville taking the first meeting 5-2 on Dec. 1 in Nashville.

Chicago will get their first look without Corey Crawford this season since he suffered a concussion in Sunday’s game against San Jose. It’s the second concussion in less than a year for Crawford, who missed 47 games last season and 10 months with his first one. In 22 games this season, Crawford is 6-14-2 with a .903 save percentage and a 3.23 goals-against average.

Cam Ward is expected to start in net against Nashville. He is 4-5-4 this season with a 4.17 GAA and .883 save percentage in 14 games. Chicago called up Collin Delia on Monday to back up Ward on an “emergency basis.”

The Blackhawks have struggled even with Crawford in the lineup. They dropped 10 of their last 11 games, and snapped an eight-game skid with a win over Pittsburgh last Wednesday. Chicago then managed to pick up a point against Winnipeg with a late rally in an overtime loss, but fell 7-3 against San Jose on Sunday.

Crawford’s injury is just another blow to a team that can’t seem to get on a consistent streak of positive performances this season.

Forward Artem Anisimov and defenseman Gustav Forsling will both draw back into the lineup after being activated from injured reserve earlier in the day. Anisimov will center the second line with Dylan Strome and Patrick Kane. Forsling slots into the second defensive pairing with Brent Seabrook.

The Blackhawks also loaned rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju to the Finnish men’s junior national team for the upcoming World Junior Championship. The 19-year-old has no goals and 11 assists this season.

Nashville, on the other hand, is tied for first place in the Central Division with the Jets. Although the Predators are not without problems of their own.

The last time the Blackhawks and Predators met, many of Nashville’s core were injured. This remains true, but to a lesser extent this time with Kyle Turris returning recently. Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban all remain out with injuries.

Another one of the Predators’ problems lately is they are 0-5-2 in their last seven road games. Their last road win came against Dallas on Nov. 10. Nashville trailed 3-0 against the Senators on Monday night before the Preds rallied to tie the game, but ended up losing in OT.

Ottawa’s three goals on only 11 shots chased Pekka Rinne after one period before Juuse Saros made 11 stops.

In Chicago and Nashville’s previous matchup at the start of December, Duncan Keith was ejected for retaliating to a hit from behind from Miikka Salomaki. Alex DeBrincat dropped the gloves shortly after. It will be interesting to see if there is any other response from the Hawks during the showdown on home ice.

Projected lines

Blackhawks

Saad — Toews — Kahun

Strome — Anisimov — Kane

DeBrincat — Kampf — Sikura

Hayden — Kruger — Perlini

Keith — Gustafsson

Forsling — Seabrook

Dahlstrom — Murphy

Ward

Delia

Predators

Hartman — Johansen — Fiala

Jarnkrok — Turris — Smith

Sissons — Bonino — Watson

Salomaki — Gaudreau — Grimaldi

Josi — Ellis

Hamhuis — Ekholm

Irwin — Weber

Rinne

Saros

How to Watch

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Network