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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, April 7th (All times eastern)

St. Louis Blues (39-31-9) at Chicago Blackhawks (50-22-7), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Central Division champion Chicago Blackhawks will aim for a fifth straight victory when they host the St. Louis Blues tonight at United Center.

The Blackhawks clinched their first division title since 1992-93 on Sunday as a result of Detroit's loss in Philadelphia. Tonight, Chicago will try to draw even with idle San Jose for the top seed in the West. The Blackhawks are two points behind San Jose and have three games left in the regular season compared to two for the Sharks.

Chicago picked up its fourth consecutive victory Tuesday evening in Dallas. Colin Fraser scored twice and Antti Niemi made 26 saves on 28 shots, leading the Blackhawks to a 5-2 decision and a franchise-record 50th win of the season.

Jonathan Toews joined Marian Hossa with a goal and an assist for Chicago. Patrick Kane had the other goal for the Blackhawks, who broke the single- season win mark that was first set in 1970-71 and later matched in 1990-91.

"It's obviously huge; it's a good season. I think we're still chasing first place. We want to be at our best heading into the playoffs," Fraser said. "(The record) says a lot because the franchise has been around forever."

Chicago is playing its second-to-last home game of the regular season and has an excellent 28-8-3 record as the host this year. The Blackhawks will visit Colorado on Friday before closing their schedule with Sunday's home test against Detroit.

The Blues, meanwhile, were eliminated from postseason contention as a result of Colorado's win Tuesday in Vancouver. The Avalanche's victory in Vancouver made Colorado the eighth and final club to clinch a playoff spot in the West.

St. Louis has notched back-to-back wins and has five victories in its last six outings, but the hot streak won't be enough to get the Blues back to the playoffs for a second straight year.

The Blues played Monday against visiting Columbus and notched an overtime win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Erik Johnson scored the game-winner 3:59 into OT, leading St. Louis to the 2-1 decision at Scottrade Center.

The goal came on a slapper from the point for the Blues. The tally was set up after Marc Methot of Columbus was penalized for holding at 3:17.

Chris Mason stopped 27 shots as the Blues won their fifth straight at home.

"The first couple of power plays Columbus had, they were sharper than we wanted them to be," said Blues coach Davis Payne. "I think we had to make sure we understood how hard of fight it was going to take. We made the adjustment."

Blues forwards Keith Tkachuk (lower body) and Patrik Berglund (upper body) suffered injuries in Monday's win and are questionable for tonight. Defenseman Barret Jackman has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury and is also questionable.

St. Louis has a solid 22-13-4 record as the road team this year. The Blues will play their final home game of the season Friday against Anaheim before capping their scheduled Saturday in Nashville.

Chicago has taken three of five from the Blues this year. St. Louis, though, has won three of its last five in the Windy City.

04/07 11:07:17 ET


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