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Blackhawks vs. Canucks preview: Playoff berth on the line

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A win in any fashion clinches a playoff berth for Chicago.

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Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Sharp will play and Corey Crawford will start when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at the United Center.

The Blackhawks would clinch a playoff berth if they defeat the Canucks in any fashion or if they get one point and both the Calgary Flames and Kings lose in any fashion or either the Flames or Kings lose in regulation. The Blackhawks cannot clinch a playoff berth if they lose in regulation.

Sharp took a rest day Wednesday, when the Blackhawks returned to practice. Patrick Kane also joined the team on ice for the first time since suffering a fractured left clavicle Feb. 24.

[MORE: Blackhawks' Patrick Kane returns to practice, timetable unchanged]

Joakim Nordstrom, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 25, also practiced in a non-contact role both days. He is expected to be out the next two days. Daniel Carcillo did not practice and remains listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Newly signed college prospects forward Kyle Baun and defenseman Michael Paliotta also practiced.

The Blackhawks are coming off back-to-back victories against the Winnipeg Jets and Los Angeles Kings to cap off a 9-3-1 record for March. They sit in third place in the Central Division with 98 points; one point behind St. Louis and three up on the fourth-place Minnesota Wild. All three teams play Thursday night and have six games remaining on their schedule.

[MORE: Blackhawks playoff picture: April 2]

The Blackhawks look to avoid a three-game season series sweep against the Canucks, who have won nine of the last 14 games overall. Vancouver is 4-0-2 in their last six trips to Chicago, who rallied from a two-goal deficit before Daniel Sedin scored in overtime for a 5-4 overtime win in the most recent matchup on Feb. 1.

Crawford is 5-3-3 with a 2.43 goals against average in .920 save percentage in 11 meetings with the Canucks.

Here are the lines from Thursday's morning skate:

Versteeg Toews Hossa
Sharp Richards Vermette
Bickell Shaw Saad
Desjardins Kruger Teravainen

Both Marian Hossa and Brad Richards used a rest day Thursday and did not participate in practice. Kane skated in Richards spot and Baun in Hossa's spot.

Opponent Breakdown: Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver sits in second place in the Pacific Division, which the Anaheim Ducks have already clinched. The Canucks hold a four-point lead over the third-place Calgary Flames, while the fourth-place Kings are seven points back.

The Canucks have won two straight and five of their past seven. Vancouver won back-to-back games against St. Louis and Nashville on the road, but prior to that they suffered losses to non-playoff teams in Dallas and Colorado.

The Sedin twins lead Vancouver's offense with Daniel Sedin scoring 16 goals and 52 assists for a team-high 68 points, while Henrik Sedin follows with 17 goals and 49 assists for 66 points.

Eddie Lack mans the net for the Canucks in the absence of injured Ryan Miller (sprained knee). Lack has given up six goals on 67 shots in two career wins against the Blackhawks.

Injury Report

ChicagoPatrick Kane (collarbone) and Joakim Nordstrom (upper-body)

Vancouver: Brad Richardson (ankle), Zack Kassian (back) and Ryan Miller (knee)

Game Information

When: 7:30 p.m. CT

Where: United Center


Radio: WGN-720

For Chicago Blackhawks tickets, check out Ticketmaster. Follow Second City Hockey on Twitter at @2ndCityHockey and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Brandon Cain on Twitter at @BrandonMCain.