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Blackhawks can clinch playoff berth against Canucks

Chicago gets in with one point; Vancouver has lost seven straight

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

BLACKHAWKS (43-25-7) at CANUCKS (27-34-13)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; SN, WGN, NHL.TV
 
VANCOUVER -
The Chicago Blackhawks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they earn at least one point against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

The Canucks, who were eliminated from playoff contention with a 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Friday, would like to delay a Chicago celebration. 

"We're in a position now to play spoiler," Canucks center Bo Horvat said. "We know how good they are. You don't want to get embarrassed in your home rink."

The Blackhawks are also fighting for playoff positioning. They trail the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues by six points in the Central Division and are two points ahead of the fourth-place Nashville Predators. 

Chicago is coming off a 4-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday and faces a couple of lineup decisions in Vancouver.  

Injured goalie Corey Crawford is not on the Blackhawks' four-game road trip, so it appears Scott Darling, who made 31 saves against the Flames, will start back-to-back games for the first time in the NHL. The other option is American Hockey League call-up Michael Leighton, who stopped 16 of 17 shots after Darling was pulled in a March 22 loss to Dallas, but hasn't started a game in the League since Jan. 27, 2013. 

The indication after an optional morning skate was Darling will start against the Canucks. There were also signs that forward Richard Panik and defenseman Michal Rozsival will come out of the lineup after playing the night before in Calgary. 

Forward Dale Weise, who was scratched against the Flames for the first time in 10 games since coming to Chicago along with Tomas Fleischmann in a Feb. 26 trade with the Montreal Canadiens, may replace Panik. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who has been a healthy scratch for four straight games and six of 11 since being acquired in a Feb. 26 trade with the Los Angeles Kings, could take Rozsival's spot against Vancouver.

Whoever plays for Chicago, the Canucks will continue to focus on improvements from young players getting new opportunities amid injuries to eight regulars. Vancouver has lost seven straight (0-6-1) and been shut out in four of its past five games.

"We're past focusing on winning games," said captain Henrik Sedin, adding the focus was on effort and doing the right things in the system. "Playing a good team like [Chicago] is fun, it forces us to pay attention to details otherwise they are going to embarrass us."

Here are the projected lineups: 
 
BLACKHAWKS

Andrew Ladd - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Tomas Fleischmann - Teuvo Teravainen - Dale Weise

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Andrew Shaw
 
Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Viktor Svedberg - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Christian Ehrhoff
 
Scott Darling

Michael Leighton
 
Injured: Corey Crawford (upper body)

Scratched: Richard Panik, Michal Rozsival, Dennis Rasmussen, Brandon Mashinter, Erik Gustafsson

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Emerson Etem

Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Jake Virtanen  

Jared McCann - Brendan Gaunce - Alexandre Burrows
 
Ben Hutton - Nikita Tryamkin

Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber  

Matt Bartkowski - Alex Biega
 
Ryan Miller

Jacob Markstrom

Injured: Derek Dorsett (upper body), Radim Vrbata (lower body), Christopher Tanev (upper body), Markus Granlund (upper body), Luca Sbisa (upper body), Derek Dorsett (upper body), Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alexander Edler (fractured tibia)
Scratched: Andrey Pedan  

Status report: The Canucks' lineup experiments for the rest of the season include trying Tryamkin, a 6-foot-7 Russian defenseman playing his seventh NHL game, as the net front presence on the power play. The 21-year-old played that role in the Kontinental Hockey League this season. "I don't think he's going to be there all the time but it's something we'd like to try," coach Willie Desjardins said. … Granlund, who has missed six games, and Tanev, who has missed four straight games and seven of the past 10, skated Sunday but aren't ready to return. … Leighton, Panik, Rozsival, Mashinter and Erik Gustafsson all skated Sunday for the Blackhawks.

Who's hot: Shaw has scored in three straight games. … Ladd had two goals and an assist in Calgary, giving him five goals and three assists in 12 games since being acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets.

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