The Chicago Blackhawks squandered another chance to move up in the Western Conference standings in their last game, but there isn't much time left for wasted opportunities.
The desperate Blackhawks look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night in the conclusion of their season series.
Chicago (36-33-8) won 10 of 14 games from Feb. 7-March 5, but has since gone 3-5-2, alternating wins and losses in its last six contests to drop six points behind the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with five games remaining.
The Blackhawks, aiming for their first postseason berth since 2001-02, must also bounce back from a very disappointing 4-0 loss at Columbus on Wednesday.
Chicago, which has been shut out five times this season, managed just 17 shots after registering at least 31 in each of its previous four games.
"We didn't have too many shots, too many good scoring chances for whatever reason," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "To get as few a shots as we did is frustrating. It's tough to take now. It was a big game."
Nikolai Khabibulin made 32 saves in Wednesday's defeat, and is 2-1-1 with a shutout and a 1.95 goals-against average in his last four starts.
He stopped 26 shots in Sunday's 4-3 overtime win over visiting St. Louis (31-34-12) to improve to 2-1-0 with a 2.66 GAA in three starts versus the Blues in 2007-08.
Chicago is 4-3-0 in the season series, but has lost two of three meetings at Scottrade Center, where the Blues have dropped four of their last five contests overall.
On Sunday, Blackhawks rookie Patrick Kane contributed an assist before scoring the overtime winner, giving him four goals and three assists in seven games against the Blues.
Kane has four goals and nine assists in 13 games this month, placing him second among first-year players with 65 points. He leads Chicago with 47 assists, one away from the team's rookie single-season record.
St. Louis has been eliminated from the playoffs for a third straight season - the longest drought in franchise history.
The Blues, though, are coming off a 4-3 overtime victory over NHL-leading Detroit on Friday.
St. Louis blew a two-goal lead, but Brad Boyes scored his second goal of the game 2:43 into the extra period to give the Blues their third win in 15 games.
"Almost exactly like the other night. We were playing well with a two-goal lead and, before you know it, it's tied," said Boyes, who also had an assist to give him eight goals and four assists in his last 10 outings.
"But this time we were able to be resilient and come back and get the win."
Boyes, the Blues' leader with 40 goals, has a goal and three assists in seven games versus Chicago this season. Paul Kariya, who shares the team scoring lead with Boyes (60), contributed three assists on Friday after going pointless in his previous three outings.
Kariya has two goals and an assist in seven games this season, and has 27 goals and 63 points in 60 career contests versus the Blackhawks.
On Friday, Manny Legace turned aside 36 shots, but is just 3-9-2 with a 3.09 GAA in his last 15 starts. However, he is 2-2-0 with a 1.86 GAA in five games versus Chicago.