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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, March 30th (All times Eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (42-18-15) at Pittsburgh Penguins (47-22-5), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks have already faced off in one of the NHL's outdoor games this season and their next meeting after Sunday's clash in Pittsburgh could be for a chance to raise the Stanley Cup.

With the regular season winding down, the two clubs square off for the final time before beginning their respective playoff pushes.

Pittsburgh assured itself of a trip to the postseason after winning Friday's meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. It clinched a playoff berth for the Penguins and they own a 13-point lead over the New York Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.

The Philadelphia Flyers are one point behind the Rangers in the standings and have played one fewer game than the Penguins. New York visits the Edmonton Oilers tonight, while Philadelphia hosts the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon.

The Blackhawks had a chance to clinch their postseason spot on Friday as well, needing just a point to do so, but the defending Stanley Cup champions lost a 5-3 decision to the Ottawa Senators.

However, the 'Hawks eventually clinched their sixth straight trip to the postseason despite being idle on Saturday after the Phoenix Coyotes lost to the Minnesota Wild.

Chicago sits third in the Central Division with 99 points, one back of the Colorado Avalanche and eight back of the front-running St. Louis Blues.

There stands a good chance that the Penguins and Blackhawks could come out of their respective conferences and meet in the Stanley Cup Finals. Chicago picked up an earlier win over Pittsburgh this season, notching a 5-1 decision at Soldier Field on March 1 as part of the NHL's "Stadium Series."

The victory was Chicago's third in its last four games versus Pittsburgh.

Jonathan Toews had two goals and an assist as he faced off against Penguins captain Sidney Crosby for the first time in the regular season. The meeting came just six days after the two won Olympic gold together with Team Canada.

Toews is third on the 'Hawks with 28 goals and 68 points, while Crosby leads the NHL by far with 97 points.

Crosby picked up an assist in the win over the Blue Jackets as Chris Kunitz and Beau Bennett scored third-period goals and Marc-Andre Fleury notched 35 saves.

"I felt pretty good," said Fleury, who notched his first victory since March 11, snapping a personal four-game slide. "It's been a while since I won. It was getting frustrating. I just stuck to my game and made the stops. I'm just happy we got the win."

The Penguins as a team had dropped three in a row and six of eight coming into the contest.

Bennett returned to action after missing the previous 50 games with a wrist/hand injury, helping a roster that has battled injuries all season and recently lost Evgeni Malkin (sprained foot) and Marcel Goc (lower body).

Fleury, meanwhile, should get the start tonight and is 4-2-2 with a 2.80 goals against average in his career versus the Blackhawks. He made 35 saves in the meeting at Soldier Field.

The Blackhawks have struggled as of late with losses in two straight and six of their last 10 games. Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook all scored in Friday's loss to the Senators, while backup netminder Antti Raanta yielded all five goals on 29 shots.

"Everyone seems to be a part of the bad habits that are kind of running contagiously through our lineup," noted Toews.

Bryan Bickell has missed his fifth straight game for Chicago due to an upper- body ailment, while Patrick Kane remains out with a lower-body injury.

Corey Crawford is the likely starter for the Blackhawks and he made 31 saves in the earlier meeting this season. He is 2-0-0 versus Pittsburgh with a 1.44 GAA.

03/30 10:21:05 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 5
PIT 2
Final
WISC 79
UNC 72
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHA
 
7:37pm Tonight
LOU
NCSU
 
9:45pm Tonight
DUKE
UTAH
 
Final
PIT 5
ATL 7
Final
DET 6
BAL 4
Final
STL 3
MIA 5
Final
BOS 5
MIN 4
Final
TAM 6
NYY 5
Final
TOR 4
PHI 1
Final
CLE 2
CIN 13
Final
SEA 0
KAN 3
Final
CWS 6
LOS 9
Final
MIL 15
SEA 1
Final
ARI 3
SDP 3
Final
WAS 3
NYM 8
Final
CHC 4
ANA 8
Final
TEX 6
COL 3
Final
SFG 4
OAK 6
1:05pm Today
ATL
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
STL
NYM
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
NYY
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
PIT
 
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
BAL
TAM
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
DET
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
TEX
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
CLE
 
6:05pm Tonight
HOU
MIA
 
9:05pm Tonight
KAN
SEA
 
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
COL
 
10:05pm Tonight
CIN
MIL
 
10:05pm Tonight
LOS
SFG
 
Final
MIL 111
IND 107
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHA
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
LAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
BOS
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CLE
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
LAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
GSW
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
SAC
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
DAL
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
UTA
 
10:00pm Tonight
PHO
POR
 
Final
ND 81
WICHS 70
Final
WISC 79
UNC 72
Final
LALAF 82
EVAN 89
Final
KENT 78
WVU 39
Final
ARZ 68
XAV 60
7:15pm Tonight
GONZ
UCLA
 
7:37pm Tonight
LOU
NCSU
 
9:45pm Tonight
DUKE
UTAH
 
10:00pm Tonight
NARZ
KSU
 
10:07pm Tonight
OKLA
MSU
 
Final
BOS 2
ANA 3
Final
BUF 3
ARI 4
Final
NYI 2
LOS 3
Final
WAS 3
NJD 2
Final
CAR 5
PIT 2
Final
TOR 1
FLA 4
Final
TAM 2
NAS 3
Final
OTT 1
NYR 5
Final
DET 4
SJS 6
Final
WIN 5
MON 2
Final
VAN 1
COL 4
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CAL
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CLB
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
DAL