Blackhawks wrap up home schedule against Wild

Published April 01, 2012

| Sports Network

The good news kept coming for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

After clinching their fourth straight trip to the postseason and learning that their captain is inching closer to a return, the Blackhawks continue their run at the Western Conference's fourth seed as they host the Minnesota Wild this evening.

Chicago officially locked up its postseason spot with a 5-4 victory over Nashville, recovering for the victory after blowing a four-goal lead. Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner and Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and Viktor Stalberg all added goals.

Corey Crawford ended with 29 saves for the Blackhawks, who have won two in a row and improved to 8-1-2 in their past 11 games.

"Now the focus is to keep getting better as a team, keep trying to move ahead and get some confidence going into the postseason," said Kane.

Things got even better for the club when it was confirmed that forward Jonathan Toews was cleared for contact on Saturday. Chicago's captain has missed the past 19 games with a concussion and has logged 29 goals and 28 assists in 59 games this season.

Chicago is also close to getting Duncan Keith back as the defenseman will sit out the final contest of his five-game ban tonight for an elbow to the head of Vancouver's Daniel Sedin back on March 21.

Those pending returns could help Chicago climb the Western Conference standings. The Blackhawks enter play tonight in a tie with the Red Wings for the fifth seed, but Detroit holds the current tiebreaker with one less game played. Chicago is also just a point back of idle Nashville for the fourth seed.

The Blackhawks are 27-8-5 at home and will play their final regular-season game in Chicago tonight. The 'Hawks final two contests are on the road and they are off following tonight's game until Thursday's contest in Minnesota.

The Blackhawks have bested the Wild in both meetings so far this season, pushing their overall series winning streak to four straight. Chicago has also won eight of the past 10 encounters overall and four of the past five played in the Windy City.

The Wild are looking to post their first three-game win streak tonight since a seven-game run from Nov. 28-Dec. 10. Minnesota was on top of the NHL standings at the end of that win streak, but has gone 13-28-7 since and sits 13th overall in the West.

The club did pick up its second straight victory last night, posting a 4-3 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings. Erik Christensen and Mikko Koivu both scored in the tiebreaker, while Niklas Backstrom made 26 saves through overtime and was perfect on two shots faced in the shootout.

"I don't know if we can enjoy any win right now because we'd like to be in the playoff race right now," said Backstrom. "But you want to finish strong because it's gong to be a long summer for us no matter how we finish, so we'd like to finish with some wins."

Christensen added a goal in regulation, his sixth in his past 10 games, and had an assist, while Darroll Powe and Nick Johnson also scored. Jason Zucker added two assists in his second NHL game.

Minnesota will play its next two games on the road, including Tuesday's matchup at Nashville, before hosting the Blackhawks and Coyotes to close out the season.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/04/01/blackhawks-wrap-up-home-schedule-against-wild/