The Chicago Blackhawks are fighting to have home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings are fighting to earn a playoff spot for a 23rd consecutive season.
The Original Six teams will clash Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Red Wings at United Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2). Chicago sits in the third place in the Central Division, one point behind the Colorado Avalanche. Detroit trails the Philadelphia Flyers by two points for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's been 22 [years] in a row now and we're trying to get into the playoffs 23 in a row," Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said. "That's what we do here in Detroit and that's what our expectations are every year. Right now we're in the playoff hunt with a lot of different teams and it's going to be a race right down to the end."
Here's a closer look at the action Sunday:
Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins -- It's the second of a home-and-home series between these in-state rivals. Philadelphia won the opener on home ice Saturday, cruising to a 4-0 victory behind a two-goal performance from right wing Matt Read and a 25-save effort by goalie Steve Mason. It was the first shutout of the Penguins by a Flyers goalie since Martin Biron on April 6, 2008.
Vancouver Canucks at Florida Panthers -- Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo will face his former team for the first time since Vancouver traded him back to Florida on March 4. The Panthers ended a three-game skid when they rallied for a 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday. Desperate for points, the Canucks are 1-1-0 on a four-game road trip that ends with back-to-back games against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals -- The Maple Leafs find themselves in second place in the Atlantic Division following a successful three-game swing through California. Toronto goalie James Reimer is expected to start after Jonathan Bernier sustained a lower-body injury in a game against the Los Angeles Kings last Thursday. The Capitals, who are three points out of a playoff spot, will head to California to face the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks next week. This is the Capitals' last home game until March 25, and eight of Washington's final 14 games are against teams that began the weekend among the top 10 in the overall standings.
Edmonton Oilers at Carolina Hurricanes -- Edmonton faces ending its road trip with three losses in four days, but the Oilers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 21 and 24 and have at least one point in 11 of 15 games (8-4-3). Carolina held the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference on Jan. 30, but the Hurricanes are 4-9-0 in their past 13 games. Goalie Anton Khudobin could start for Carolina after backing up Cam Ward for the past four games, including a 5-1 road loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
San Jose Sharks at New York Rangers -- Since closing January with three straight losses by a combined score of 8-1, San Jose is making a push for the NHL's best record. Led by captain Joe Thornton (nine points in his past nine games), the Sharks are 10-2-1 since that midseason mini-slump, including 2-0-0 on their three-game road trip. The Rangers are 16-8-2 since Jan. 4 and sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. New York forward Chris Kreider has three goals in his past four games. The teams haven't met since the second week of the season, when rookie Tomas Hertl scored four times in the Sharks' 9-2 victory. Hertl won't be on hand for the rematch; he's out with a knee injury.
Colorado Avalanche at Ottawa Senators -- Colorado, one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for second place in the Central Division, begins a three-game Canadian trip in Ottawa. The Avalanche allowed six goals in the second period Friday in a 6-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Ottawa blew a 4-1 lead Saturday by allowing three goals in the final 3:22 of regulation en route to a 5-4 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. The Senators are six points out of a playoff spot in the East.
Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres -- Montreal brings a ton of momentum into First Niagara Center after rallying to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in OT at Bell Centre on Saturday. David Desharnais tied it with 0.3 seconds remaining in regulation before Francis Bouillon won it 1:26 into overtime. Buffalo returns home after dropping a 4-1 decision to the New York Islanders on Saturday night in Ted Nolan's return to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Sabres have lost five in a row.
Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks -- The Red Wings have been hindered by injuries and recently lost forward Todd Bertuzzi (lower body). But they still picked up two big points at home Friday when they beat the Oilers 2-1 in a shootout. Rookie Riley Sheahan has five goals and 12 points in 22 games since taking over in the middle of Detroit's second line. Chicago has lost two in a row and five of its past eight games to fall into third place in the Central Division. The Blackhawks could have forward Marian Hossa back in the lineup. Hossa has missed five games with an upper-body injury, but said he'll likely play Sunday.
Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets -- When the season resumed after the break for the Sochi Olympics, the Stars and Jets were separated by two points in the race for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the teams have gone in opposite directions since then. Dallas owns the final wild-card position in the West; the Jets have fallen six points off the pace as the result of an 0-3-3 slide. Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec won't play after leaving a 4-2 loss against the New York Rangers on Friday with a lower-body injury and may miss a couple of games. The Stars play 10 of their final 16 games on the road.
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