Posted April 06, 2012 on
AP on Fox
Last season, the Detroit Red Wings nearly dashed the Chicago Blackhawks' playoff hopes in the final game of the regular season.
This time, the Blackhawks could play a spoiler of sorts in Saturday's finale at Joe Louis Arena with a chance to help deny the Red Wings home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Chicago fell 4-3 to visiting Detroit on the last day of the 2010-11 regular season and only got into the playoffs because of Dallas' loss in Minnesota later that day.
The Blackhawks (44-26-11) spared themselves the same drama this season by wrapping up their postseason berth before the start of this month. Chicago, though, won't begin its fourth consecutive playoff appearance at home because it can finish no better than fifth in the Western Conference.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, trail fourth-place Nashville by one point heading into Saturday.
Detroit (48-28-5) needs a win and a regulation loss from the Predators later in the day to clinch home-ice advantage for a first-round series against Nashville. A regulation loss would push the Red Wings into sixth place behind Chicago and send them off to face the Pacific Division champion.
"Starting at home and also having that seventh (game) at home with this crowd, obviously that would be a big deal," defenseman Niklas Kronwall told the team's website.
The Red Wings need the help because they failed to earn a third straight win Thursday, losing 2-1 at home to New Jersey. They were coming off shootout victories over Florida and St. Louis.
Detroit now tries try to earn a split in the six-game season series with Chicago while regaining its scoring touch. The Red Wings have scored seven times over their past five games, including one goal in each of the last three at home.
The Blackhawks have allowed one goal in each of the past two meetings, most recently a 2-1 road victory March 4. They're 6-0-1 in their last seven visits to Detroit.
Corey Crawford is 3-0-1 with a 1.97 goals-against average in four games there since the start of last season. He was denied a third straight win Thursday with a 2-1 shootout defeat at Minnesota.
The Blackhawks only recorded a combined two shots in the third period and overtime. They went 0 for 4 on the power play after scoring three times in their previous 10 chances.
Chicago is a league-worst 9 for 97 (9.3 percent) with the man advantage since Jan. 31.
"We've got to get (the power play) going if we want to win some tight games in the playoffs," forward Viktor Stalberg said. "It's going to be a crucial part of the game, and we get one more chance to work on it on Saturday."
Chicago likely won't have Jonathan Toews to help. The captain hasn't played since Feb. 19 because of a concussion but was cleared for contact at the end of last month.
Marian Hossa will try to help make up for his absence. He has 13 points in his last 11 games against his former team, including a team-best five this season.
Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi has scored three of his 14 goals against Chicago, his most versus any opponent this season.
BEST OF MAXIM
It wasn’t long ago that the Detroit Red Wings had lost six straight games and looked like a confused, beaten team. The Wings have looked better since then, but have still showed signs of shakiness that was not present during the team’s 23-game home winning streak.
I’m here to tell you to throw all that out the window.
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Paul for George…
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