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Over the past two games, the Nashville Predators seem to have found their missing scoring touch, just as the Chicago Blackhawks have lost theirs.
The finale of a home-and-home series Sunday at the United Center again matches the Predators (19-19-3), who have nine goals in consecutive wins, against the Blackhawks (22-10-7), who have scored twice in back-to-back losses.
Behind another strong performance from converted center David Legwand, Nashville won 4-1 at home on Saturday.
Legwand scored a pair of goals in the victory, giving him three goals and an assist in two games since moving to the left side.
Before Thursday's 5-3 win against Pittsburgh, the Predators had averaged 1.65 goals over their previous 17 games, and 2.33 for the season.
"The goals are coming from playing the game the right way offensively and defensively," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We are getting goals because we are forechecking well and creating turnovers. We are getting goals because we are going to the net hard. We are making good decisions and shooting the puck. Those are all of the things we have been practicing and preaching."
Along with Legwand, defenseman Ryan Suter has four points in his last three games - a goal and three assists. Joel Ward has three assists in the last two, and another defenseman, Greg Zanon, has contributed a goal and two assists.
The return of Steve Sullivan could give the offense a further boost. The former Blackhawk made his first appearance since Feb. 22, 2007 on Saturday, playing 12:30 and taking three shots.
Back problems that required two disc operations caused Sullivan to miss the team's previous 153 contests, but when healthy, the winger reached the 60-point mark in consecutive seasons and scored at least 22 goals in 2005-06 and 2006-07. In 151 games with Nashville, Sullivan has 62 goals and 158 points.
Pekka Rinne is likely to make his second consecutive start after he turned aside 34 of 35 shots on Saturday. Rinne is 2-0-0 with a .945 save percentage in two career starts against the Blackhawks.
Nashville center Jason Arnott is doubtful for Sunday after he left Saturday's game with a lower body injury.
Chicago's struggles against its own division continued in Saturday's loss. The Blackhawks have a 2-3-5 mark against Central Division teams, including a 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators on Oct. 13 at the United Center.
Before this season, Chicago had gone 5-0-1 in its previous six with Nashville and won three straight home meetings.
Chicago could only manage a goal from enforcer Adam Burish on Saturday. Burish, though, has used his hands for more than fighting lately, with two goals and two assists in the last three games, but his score didn't come until the 6:11 mark of the third period.
Chicago also went 25:11 into Thursday's 2-1 loss at Colorado before Brian Campbell scored.
"We have to do way better than we were," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Starts are important. We have had two ordinary, below-average starts the last two games. We can't win hockey games like that."
The Blackhawks' top scorers have especially struggled.
Patrick Sharp, who leads Chicago with 20 goals, has scored once over the last seven games. Patrick Kane, who missed two games with an ankle injury, hasn't scored in the past six contests and has three of his team-leading 42 points in that span.
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