Blackhawks-Canucks Preview

The Associated Press

Both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks are in the playoffs, but each team knows it still has work to do heading into Monday night's game at Rogers Arena.

The Blackhawks (34-5-5), who have already clinched the Central Division and the West's top seed, can earn their first Presidents' Trophy since 1991 with a win Monday and a Pittsburgh regulation loss at Ottawa. Chicago carries an 11-game point streak (9-0-2) into this contest after a 3-2 shootout loss at home to Phoenix on Saturday night, but did find solace in having its power-play unit contribute two goals for a second straight game - both scored by defenseman Brent Seabrook.

"I like the power play, we had good motion, good movement, good options," coach Joel Quenneville said with his team 4 for 7 the last two games after failing to convert any of the 19 chances the previous nine games. "(Seabrook) one-time, (Seabrook) in the slot, a couple nice feeds as well.

"It's nice to see some finished product. That's definitely been a sore point for a stretch of games here, It was nice to have something positive to come out of it on the power play side."

The next step will be carrying that man-advantage success to the road, where Chicago is scoreless in six chances spanning its last four games. That spotty special-teams play hasn't hurt the Blackhawks, who have posted three consecutive road shutouts - a streak of 180 minutes and 33 seconds entering a game in which they expect to be challenged.

"There's a lot of intensity, a lot of emotion," Quenneville said. "We know it's going to be competitive, the pace is always frantic and it makes for a great game."

Chicago is trying to become the first team to post four consecutive shutouts away from home since the Phoenix Coyotes accomplished the feat Jan. 2-9, 2004. The three straight outside the Windy City match a Blackhawks record established Jan. 8-13, 1931.

Extending that streak will be difficult as Vancouver (25-13-7) bears down on the Northwest title. The Canucks secured a playoff spot Saturday night with a 2-1 shootout victory over Detroit that also extended their home winning streak to a season-high seven games.

"It's nice to finally get that check mark,'' goaltender Cory Schneider said. "You're never in until you're in. This Western Conference is so competitive, and it seems like everyone wants to win it and everyone goes on a run at some point.

"So to get into the playoffs is our first goal and, hopefully, we can go a step further now and clinch our division. So we're just going to try to put our heads down and keep going.''

Vancouver is chasing Anaheim for the No. 2 spot in the West and would finish no worse than third if it wins the Northwest.

Schneider has been dominant in backstopping Vancouver's home win streak, posting a 0.84 goals-against average with three shutouts and a .970 save percentage in the seven victories.

"He has been playing great for us for a long time now, and that's what we come to expect from him," Alex Burrows said of Schneider. "That's the play he is able to bring every night and we'll need that down the stretch.''

The teams traded shootout victories in February, with the home team winning both. Chicago won the most recent meeting 4-3 on Feb. 19, with Andrew Shaw beating Schneider for the game-winner.

Corey Crawford, who lost 2-1 at Vancouver on Feb. 1, likely will make his third straight start in net for the Blackhawks with Ray Emery nursing a lower-body injury.

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