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Blackhawks clinch Central, top seed in West

Without playing, Chicago wins division, enters playoffs as conference leader

NHL.com @NHL

The Chicago Blackhawks clinched first place in the Central Division and Western Conference on Saturday when the Minnesota Wild lost 3-0 at the Nashville Predators.

Chicago (50-21-7) is three points behind the Washington Capitals for the most in the NHL entering its game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, NHL.TV). 

The Wild (45-25-8), who led the Blackhawks by six points on Feb. 1, have won four of 17 games since March 1 (4-11-2). Chicago is 20-4-2 in its past 26 games, including three victories against Minnesota.

The Blackhawks would have home-ice advantage for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs, through the Western Conference Final.

It's the first time they have finished first in the Western Conference since 2012-13, when they went 36-7-5 in the lockout-shortened 48-game season. Chicago never finished first in the Western Conference in a full 82-game season since the NHL adopted its current Eastern-Western setup for the 1993-94 season.

Chicago's last division title in a full season came in 2009-10, when it was 52-22-8. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009-10 and 2012-13. The Blackhawks finished third in the division and fourth in the conference in 2014-15, the last time they won the Cup.

This is the 16th division championship in Blackhawks history.

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