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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 27th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (36-6-5) at St. Louis Blues (28-17-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Blues will try to secure home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs when they host the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks in Saturday's regular-season finale at Scottrade Center.
The Blues hold a one-point edge over San Jose and Los Angeles for the fourth seed in the Western Conference and can clinch the spot with a win over the Blackhawks. The Sharks and Kings also are finishing their regular seasons on Saturday by facing off against each other in Los Angeles.
St. Louis has won two straight and five of their last six, giving the club a superb 11-3-0 record in April. The Blues will also try for a sixth straight home win when they wrap the regular season with the finale of a three-game residency.
The Blues outscored the opposition by a combined 7-2 score over their last two games, but head coach Ken Hitchcock still wasn't satisfied after Thursday's 4-1 win over Calgary.
"I don't care if its 4-1 or whatever," said St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock. "We had too many sloppy plays in the third period that could have ended up in our net. Our goalie made four great saves, and you can't make those mistakes either."
Ryan Reaves scored two goals for the Blues, who vaulted from sixth to fourth place in the Western Conference standings with the win. Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen each posted a goal while Brian Elliott stopped 18 shots for the Blues.
St. Louis has nearly identical records at home and on the road this season, going 14-8-1 at Scottrade Center and 14-9-1 everywhere else.
The Blues are also getting healthier as the playoffs draw near. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak hasn't played since April 1 due to a groin injury, but he was available as the backup to Elliott on Thursday and could get the start in the regular-season finale.
Halak is 6-5-1 with a 2.14 goals against average in 16 games this season.
St. Louis forward T.J. Oshie hasn't played since March 28 due to a left ankle injury that required surgery. Oshie, who had seven goals and 13 assists in 30 games this year, will miss today's game, but St. Louis expects him to be ready for the opening game of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks have already clinched the Presidents' Trophy, meaning they have secured home-ice advantage through the entire playoffs. Despite that firm standing, Chicago has a chance to end the regular season on a three-game winning streak tonight.
Chicago picked up its second straight win in Friday's home game against the Calgary Flames. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews scored one goal apiece and the Blackhawks held off Calgary for the 3-1 win.
Marcus Kruger added a goal and Corey Crawford made 25 saves for the Blackhawks.
"We're just playing the moment. We haven't gotten ahead of ourselves all year, and now is not the time to do so," Crawford said. "We feel good right now and we're just focused on the task at hand."
The Blackhawks will open the playoffs against either Detroit, Minnesota or Columbus -- the three teams fighting over the final two playoff seeds in the West.
Chicago is 3-0-1 against the Blues this season and has won five of six overall in this series. The Blackhawks have taken two in a row and three of four in the Gateway City.
04/27 11:02:28 ET