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Blues need win to lock up home ice in first round

by John Kreiser

BLACKHAWKS (36-6-5) at BLUES (28-17-2)


Last 10: Chicago 8-1-1; St. Louis 7-3-0

Season series: It's the last of five meetings, and the Chicago Blackhawks haven't gone home empty-handed from any of the first four. The Blackhawks won three times and lost 4-3 in a shootout. They shut out the St. Louis Blues in both of their visits to Scottrade Center.

Big story: The Blackhawks have already won everything there is to win in the regular season and are just tuning up for their playoff opener. The Blues, on the other hand, can assure themselves of fourth place in the Western Conference and the home-ice advantage in the first round with a victory.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: Chicago's home finale on Friday night didn't mean anything in the standings, but the Blackhawks put on a good show for the home folks, beating the Calgary Flames 3-1 for their 36th victory in 47 games.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored his 23rd goal of the season in the first period. The two share the team lead in goals, and things may stay that way -- it wouldn't be surprising to see coach Joel Quenneville give both of them the night off.

"It would've been nice to get one more than him," Kane said with a smile. "Both of us were kind of lobbying for it and trying pretty hard in the third period, but it was a fun little run there at the end of the season. It seemed like it was one goal that separated us here or there for a lot of the past 20 games. It keeps it fun. If I see him do something, then I'm going to want to do something the next shift. That gets me pumped up, too, and I'm sure he's the same way. It's good for the team if both of us are going."

Blues: St. Louis has been flying under the radar, but a victory in their season finale will give the Blues 11 wins in 13 games this month and send them into the playoffs on a high note.

"It's an important game," coach Ken Hitchcock told the team's website. "You move on one way or the other, but it's an important game. It's two good teams.

"Chicago's arguably the best team in a long time in the League the way they've played. We're going to have to be at our best to win the hockey game. ... It's obviously more important for us than it is for them."

Who's hot: Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford is 6-0-1 with a 1.44 goals-against average in his past seven starts against the Blues, including a pair of shutouts in St. Louis this season. … Blues goaltender Brian Elliott is 10-2-0 this month and has allowed just 15 goals. Chris Stewart, the Blues' leading scorer, has four points in the past two games.

Injury report: Crawford, who won Friday's game, might play again Saturday because Ray Emery is battling a lower-body injury. Center Dave Bolland (groin) might sit again to make sure he's ready for the playoffs. … The Blues are without forward T.J. Oshie (ankle surgery). Defenseman Barret Jackman missed Thursday's game with an ankle injury. Center Scott Nichol (lower body) hopes to be ready for the playoffs.

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