Blackhawks aim to clinch playoff berth in Ottawa
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks take another crack at officially locking up a chance to defend their Stanley Cup title as they visit the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
The Blackhawks went into Thursday night's game versus the hosting Boston Bruins needing just one point to clinch a playoff spot, but were blanked 3-0 in their first trip to TD Garden since winning the Cup last June.
Corey Crawford stopped 20 shots for the Blackhawks, who had won three of their previous four but were shut out for the second time in three games.
A struggling power play didn't help. Chicago went 0-for-2 on the man advantage and has gone 0-for-20 in its last seven on the road.
"We're looking to get one more win," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said.
Chicago played a fourth straight game without winger Patrick Kane due to a lower-body injury and fellow forward Bryan Bickell also sat out his fourth in a row because of an upper-body issue.
Still, the Blackhawks sit second in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche but 14 up on the fourth-place Minnesota Wild.
It is unknown if Crawford will start on back-to-back nights or if rookie backup Antti Raanta will face the Senators for the first time.
Crawford is 2-0-0 with a 1.92 goals against average in his career against Ottawa, picking up a victory in relief on Oct. 29. He yielded one goal on 15 shots in spelling Nikolai Khabibulin as the Blackhawks rallied for a 6-5 win.
Jonathan Toews scored twice in the third period to notch a hat trick as the Blackhawks beat the Senators for a third straight meeting and for the sixth time in the last seven encounters.
Ottawa saw Craig Anderson allow six goals on 40 shots, while Kyle Turris and Milan Michalek both had a goal and an assist.
The Senators have lost four of their last six at home versus the Blackhawks and a late-season fade has just about knocked them out of the playoff race. They snapped a six-game slide with Monday's shootout win over Tampa Bay, but lost a 3-2 shootout to the Florida Panthers the following night.
Ottawa has gone 2-6-3 in its last 11 and sits eight points back of four teams tied for the two wild card berths in the Eastern Conference.
On Tuesday, Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri beat Ottawa's Robin Lehner in the shootout.
After Turris rattled a goal off the post and in, Jason Spezza fired wide on Ottawa's second chance and Florida's Roberto Luongo ended the game with a glove save on Michalek's backhand as he did a split in the crease.
Lehner had 39 saves for the Senators, who begin a five-game homestand tonight.
"It is what it is," Lehner said of the loss. "We lost that one but I thought it was a good effort."
Anderson may get the start tonight and it would be his first since March 10, when he suffered an upper-body injury. He is 4-1-2 with a 3.43 GAA lifetime versus the Blackhawks.
Bobby Ryan, who leads Ottawa with 23 goals, missed his second game with a lower-body injury and will miss the rest of the regular season due to surgery to correct a sports hernia.
Ryan was acquired in a trade with Anaheim on the same day long-time Sens skater Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings. He finished his first season in Ottawa with 48 points in 70 games.
03/28 10:54:49 ET