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Blackhawks visit Capitals, go for 2nd straight road win

by Brian Hunter

BLACKHAWKS (46-19-15) at CAPITALS (37-30-13)


Last 10: Chicago 6-4-0; Washington 4-3-3

Season series: This is the second and final game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals, who met Oct. 1 in the season opener. Mikhail Grabovski had a hat trick for the Capitals, but six different Blackhawks had goals in a 6-4 Chicago victory. Brandon Saad scored one of them and added two assists.

Big story: Although the Blackhawks won't repeat as Central Division champions, they can still max out at an impressive 111 points if they beat the Capitals on Friday and the Nashville Predators on Saturday. The franchise record of 112 was set during the 2009-10 season, when Chicago won its first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: A goal in the final minute of regulation by Marian Hossa and another in the first minute of overtime by Patrick Sharp led Chicago to a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday as the Blackhawks finished the regular season 27-7-7 at United Center.

Now they'll work on establishing some road momentum heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks have lost one more road game this season than they've won (19 wins, 12 regulation losses, eight overtime/shootout losses). They snapped an 0-4-1 stretch on the road by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets in the final seconds April 4.

"We'd love to play at the United Center, but when Game 82 is over, we'll take the next challenge, whatever it may be," Sharp said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Capitals: This is the start of a season-ending two-game homestand for Washington, which closes against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Although the Capitals could still finish with as many points as the Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, their 27 non-shootout wins -- the fourth-lowest total in the Eastern Conference -- ensure they lose the tiebreaker in each case.

In their first game since being eliminated from playoff contention, the Capitals got two goals from Troy Brouwer in a 5-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"It can be tough to get up for these games," Brouwer said. "But we want to finish the season off right with some good games, maybe a little consolation smile on your face when you go into the summertime, I guess."

Alex Ovechkin was unable to build on his NHL-leading total of 50 goals and was minus-2, leaving him at minus-36 on the season. Ovechkin finished as a minus player twice in his first eight seasons.

Who's hot: Blackhawks forward Jeremy Morin has goals in three consecutive games and a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists). Sharp also has goals in three straight, plus two assists during that span. … Capitals forward Joel Ward has two goals and three assists during a three-game point streak. Ward and forwards Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr each had a goal and two assists Thursday. Goalie Braden Holtby has won three straight starts.

Injury report: Chicago hopes to have forwards Jonathan Toews (upper body) and Patrick Kane (lower body) back for the start of the playoffs. … Washington defenseman Mike Green (upper body) is day-to-day. Forward Brooks Laich (groin) and defensemen Patrick Wey (head) and Jack Hillen (upper body) are out.

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