CHICAGO -- Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks' fourth line made sure a chance to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center on Thursday wasn't squandered.
Led by Crawford's 35 saves and two goals from its fourth line, Chicago defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 to clinch its seventh straight trip to the playoffs.
Jonathan Toews and fourth-line center Marcus Kruger each scored in the third period, minutes after Crawford made several outstanding saves to keep the game tied.
"That was our goal going into Game 1: Get into the playoffs," said Kruger, who also had an assist. "It's a tough league, and we play in a good division and conference. It's tough to do that and that's something we feel proud of, but now we want give ourselves the best possible chance here."
The Blackhawks (47-24-6) have won three straight and are in third place in the Central Division with 100 points.
Chicago kept pace with the second-place St. Louis Blues, who have 101 points after defeating the Calgary Flames 4-1 at Scottrade Center on Thursday.
A week ago, after losing at home to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Blackhawks faced a daunting three-game stretch.
They came out with a victory in each by winning on a goal late in regulation on the road against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, defeating the Los Angeles Kings at home on Monday and then edging the Canucks (45-28-5), who are four points ahead of the Flames for second place in the Pacific Division.
"I feel like against the higher teams, we play a better game," Crawford said. "We play with more speed and everyone together, it feels like. We've just got to keep it rolling here."
The Blackhawks, who have four games left, complete their back-to-back set on the road against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
Vancouver will finish its final road trip of the regular season at Winnipeg on Saturday. The Canucks leave Chicago knowing they had plenty of chances of their own to break the 1-1 tie in the second and third periods.
Crawford, who improved to 32-17-5, denied every one and was named the game's No.1 star.
"I think he's been outstanding this season," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his goalie. "We've talked about how big he's been in third periods and when games are on the line. He's been great all year. He was little bit ordinary there after his (ankle) injury, but other than that an outstanding season."
Canucks goalie Eddie Lack also made 35 saves, and forward Derek Dorsett scored his seventh goal, tying the game 1-1 at 18:46 of the first off a Chicago turnover.
Blackhawks rookie Teuvo Teravainen opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first period with his fourth goal, rewarding the Blackhawks' fourth line for a strong shift when he scored with a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle.
After feeding Marcus Kruger a pass to the front of the net, the Finnish rookie drifted into the right circle and got a return pass from Kruger off a rebound of the initial shot.
Teravainen forced a turnover midway through the third, then returned the favor and sprung Kruger for a breakaway. Kruger scored at 10:31 for the game's final goal, 2:27 after Toews made it 2-1 off a rebound of a point shot by Johnny Oduya.
"They had more chances than we did tonight throughout the game," Vancouver coach Willie Desjardins said. "We were there, but they were better than we were tonight. They outplayed us. They took it to us pretty good. We were in it until the third. If we get a break there maybe we get it going, but they deserved what they got."
Crawford made 10 saves in the second to keep the Canucks from taking a lead on good scoring chances by center Linden Vey and defenseman Yannick Weber. He made 15 in the third, including another good one against Weber at 6:22 during a 3-on-2 rush.
Minutes later, after Toews' goal, the Blackhawks goalie made an outstanding save against Nick Bonino to preserve the one-goal lead.
The Blackhawks are in the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season for the first time since 1991 to 1997, but the goal now is to chase down the Blues -- and possibly the Nashville Predators, who lead the Central with 103 points -- for some sort of home-ice advantage.
"I think the last three games, [we] definitely like the trend," Quenneville said. "I thought we had a stretch there where we were very ordinary, even though we were picking up points in some games. I knew we had to get better and knowing that if we were satisfied with this, it's not going to be good enough. You look at our last three games, playing the right way was definitely a point of emphasis, and their play was exactly what we're looking for."