NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 11th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (46-19-15) at Washington Capitals (37-30-13), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Despite playing without stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the Chicago Blackhawks are a perfect 4-0 in April and the club hopes to pick up a fifth straight win when it visits the Washington Capitals on Friday.
Kane hasn't played since March 19 due to an injured left leg, while Toews has sat out all four games during the recent hot streak with an upper-body issue. Both players are out for the rest of the regular season, but could be ready to return in time for Game 1 of the playoffs.
Chicago has earned its playoff berth and is locked into Central Division's third-place spot. That means the defending Stanley Cup champions will open the postseason on the road against either Colorado or St. Louis.
The Blackhawks picked up their most recent win Wednesday against Montreal, downing the visiting Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. Peter Budaj misplayed a harmless Patrick Sharp shot into a game-winner at 43 seconds of overtime, giving Chicago the come-from-behind win at United Center.
Marian Hossa tied the game inside the final minute with the extra attacker, then Sharp won it when his contested, rolling shot from between the circles trickled up Budaj's stick. Instead of trapping it, the Habs' netminder tried to shake it away, but instead whacked the puck into the net.
"I think we were due. It was the first time all season we managed to get one in overtime," said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, about his club failing to score in 22 overtime periods prior to Wednesday. "To take this long to get it is certainly a relief and a huge two points."
Jeremy Morin also tallied and Corey Crawford came up with 28 saves for the Blackhawks, who completed their regular-season home schedule with a 27-7-7 record.
Chicago, which is 19-12-8 as the guest, will complete its regular season Saturday in Nashville.
The Capitals earned a third straight win on Thursday, beating Carolina, 5-2, in Raleigh. However, a hot streak won't be enough to change Washington's playoff fate, as the club was eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week.
Washington will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season after Detroit and Columbus clinched the last two spots in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday.
Eliminated on an off-day, the Capitals responded with their biggest offensive output in six weeks in Thursday's rout of the Hurricanes.
Troy Brouwer had two goals to help the Caps down Carolina at PNC Arena. Washington scored at least five goals for the first time in 20 games -- the longest it's gone this season between such games.
Joel Ward, Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr also scored and each player had two assists. Braden Holtby had 36 saves as Washington wrapped up a perfect three- game road trip.
"It still feels better winning than losing," said Capitals coach Adam Oates. "We talked about it this morning that we just have to be pros and play. You gotta do it for yourselves, for each other and for the people who pay and expect to see you perform. The guys played hard and that's all you can do."
The Capitals will finish their regular season at home against Chicago on Friday and Tampa Bay on Sunday. The club is 20-13-6 in D.C. this season.
Chicago has won two straight against the Capitals following a three-game slide in the series. The Blackhawks recorded a 6-4 home win over Washington on Oct. 1, but the Caps have won two straight meetings in D.C.
04/11 10:37:11 ET