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Blackhawks vs. Blues preview: Crucial Central Division Match-up

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Kruger, Timonen out as Chicago vs. St. Louis clash for the final time in the regular season.

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Marcus Kruger and Kimmo Timonen are out, while Corey Crawford will get the start when the Chicago Blackhawks play the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on Thursday night.

Kruger is sick and Timonen will rest an upper-body injury, likely for the next two games. Andrew Desjardins will center the fourth line, while Kyle Baun will make his second NHL start on the right-wing of the second line. David Rundblad and Michal Rozsvial will both play despite sloppy play and recently signed college prospect Michael Paliotta waiting in the wings.

The Blackhawks will try to prevent the Blues from clinching the Central Division and gain ground in the division race themselves. The Blues lead the division with 105 points, one ahead of the Nashville Predators and three up on the Hawks with two games to play for all three teams.

[MORE: Blackhawks Playoff Picture: April 9]

A victory in any fashion by St. Louis combined with a Predators loss to the visiting Minnesota Wild would clinch the division for St. Louis. A Hawks win would keep them alive for the first-place crown.

Chicago lost a 2-1 decision to the Wild on Tuesday, their second straight defeat to finish the regular-season 24-12-5 at home. The Hawks have won four of their past five against the Blues at Scottrade Center.

Crawford is 12-3-3 with a 2.24 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts in 18 games against the Blues.

Here are the lines from Thursday's skate:

Versteeg Toews Hossa
Saad Vermette Baun
Bickell Shaw Sharp
Nordstrom Desjardins Teravainen

Opponent Breakdown: St. Louis Blues

The Blues are looking for their third 50-win season in franchise history and in back-to-back seasons. St. Louis is ending the regular season with three consecutive games at home, beginning that stretch with Tuesday's 1-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The loss snapped a three-game win streak.

Chris Porter will replace Olli Jokinen in the lineup for fresher legs. Jokinen scored the game-winner Sunday at United Center. Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Bortuzzo all participated as extras in the Blues' skate but will not play.

Jake Allen will get the start in goal. Brian Elliot, who turned 30 today, will be the backup.

Injury Report

ChicagoPatrick Kane (collarbone), Kimmo Timonen (upper-body, day-to-day) and Brad Richards (upper-body)

St. Louis: Robert Bortuzzo (day-to-day, upper-body), Vladimir Tarasenko (day-to-day, leg) and Alexander Steen (day-to-day, knee)

Game Information

When: 7 p.m. CT

Where: Scottrade Center

TV: NBCSN, CSN

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.