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Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues

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GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (20-39-11-6) at St. Louis Blues (35-28-11-2).

TIME: Saturday, 5 p.m. EST.

A team battling for a playoff spot heading into the final days of the regular season should look forward to a home-and-home series with one of the NHL's worst clubs.

The St. Louis Blues, however, may not be too excited about playing the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues are among four teams vying for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference, and are facing a Blackhawks team that has just 57 points.

St. Louis, however, has lost three of four meetings with Chicago this season, and has just three wins in the last 14 games in the series (3-6-3-2).

But the Blues come into this contest playing well, going 6-2-3 in their last 11 games after beating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 3-2 at home on Thursday.

St. Louis has made the playoffs for the last 24 years - the longest current streak in pro sports.

"Every game is a big game," said Blues forward Jamal Mayers, who scored the game-winner midway through the third period Thursday. "You know you can never underestimate a team's pride or a guy's pride. We're in no position to overlook anybody."

Chicago's winless streak reached three on Thursday night with an 8-2 home loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks have just four wins in their last 19 contests after a season high-tying, three-game winning streak from Feb. 3-14.

Blackhawks rookie goalie Adam Munro played the entire game on Thursday.

"It was a rough night," Munro said. "I think all-in-all it was an off-night for myself. They were finding the open net."

Jocelyn Thibault dressed for the first time since Nov. 7 after undergoing hip surgery, but did not relieve Munro. He is expected to start Saturday.

"I wanted to stay in," Munro said after playing just his fifth NHL game. "I don't like to get pulled at all. I was trying to battle through it, and I couldn't do it."

The Blues and Blackhawks conclude the home-and-home series on Sunday in Chicago.

STANDINGS: Blackhawks - 57 points, 4th place, 44 PB, Central Division. Blues - 83 points, 3rd place, 18 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Tyler Arnason, 22 goals, 31 assists and 53 points; Travis Moen, 131 PIM. Blues - Keith Tkachuk, 31 goals and 68 points; Doug Weight, 46 assists; Mike Danton, 141 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 25): Blackhawks - Power play: 15.6 percent (52 for 333), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (298 for 353), 13th. Blues - Power play: 17.8 percent (57 for 320), 8th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (295 for 350), 15th.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Thibault (5-3-2, 1 SO, 2.27 GAA); Munro (1-3-1, 4.14). Blues - Chris Osgood (27-24-8, 2, 2.29); Reinhard Divis (4-3-2, 2.84).

SEASON SERIES: Blackhawks, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 22; Blackhawks, 3-2, OT. At Chicago, Eric Weinrich scored with 2:54 left in the third period to give the Blues a 2-1 lead, but a power-play goal by Kyle Calder with 1:28 remaining in regulation tied it and Chicago won on Stephane Robidas' goal with 19.5 seconds left in overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 7-24-5-1 on the road; Blues - 21-10-7-0 at home.


Associated Press
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