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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
UWGB 66
ECU 49
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
Final
UWGB 66
ECU 49
Final
WEBER 59
NEV 56
 
Half
FRES 25
EVAN 29
 
Half
KYST 39
PURD 24
 
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
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MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
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CHAM
PITT
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL