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Blackhawks visit Jets for season finale

So long, 2017-18 season.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks will close out its season Saturday with a visit to Winnipeg.

It’s been an unexpectedly bad season for Chicago, who saw its nine-year playoff streak come to an end due to a head injury to starting goaltender Corey Crawford, an ineffective defensive corps and lack of production from star players. The Hawks enter Saturday’s game in 24th place in the league standings with a 6 percent odds at the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Chicago hasn’t had much success this season, but they have had the Jets number. The Hawks are 3-1 against Winnipeg, and Patrick Kane has a team-high five points (two goals, three assists) in those four games. Chicago holds an 8-3 record in Winnipeg.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson has served as a surprising bright spot for Chicago down the stretch. Since signing a two-year contract extension, Gustafsson has scored 11 points, including five points (two goals, three assists) in his last six games.

Saturday’s game will also “probably” be forward Patrick Sharp’s last in the NHL. The 36-year-old received a well-deserved send off from the Chicago faithful during and after Friday’s 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Sharp had two shots on goal in the game, but couldn’t find the back of net. One more goal for Sharp would seal a great career. While Sharp is hoping for one more goal, Chicago rookie Alex DeBrincat is trying to score two more to reach the 30-goal milestone.

For Winnipeg, Saturday’s game is all about staying healthy and individual achievements. The Jets are already locked into a first-round playoff matchup against the Minnesota Wild and have set a franchise season record at 51-20-10. It’s only the second time the Jets have qualified for the playoffs since moving from Atlanta in 2011. They were swept in four games by Anaheim in 2015.

Winger Patrik Laine is in contention for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the most goals scored in a season. He trails Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, 47 to 44. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will start in net as he tries to get one more win to surpass Tom Barrasso for most wins ever by an American netminder in a season at 44. Barrasso set the record with Pittsburgh in the 1992-93.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandon Saad - Nick Schmaltz - Patrick Kane
F2 Tomas Jurco - Artem Anisimov - Andreas Martinsen
F3 Alex DeBrincat - Victor Ejdsell - Dylan Sikura
F4 Patrick Sharp - David Kampf - Vinnie Hinostroza
D1 Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
D2 Erik Gustafsson - Connor Murphy
D3 Blake Hillman - Jordan Oesterle
Goaltender J-F Berube

Jets

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
F2 Nikolaj Ehlers - Paul Stastny - Patrik Laine
F3 Mathieu Perreault - Andrew Copp - Bryan Little
F4 Brandon Tanev - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
D1 Josh Morrissey - Tyler Myers
D2 Joe Morrow - Dustin Byfuglien
D3 Ben Chiarot - Tucker Poolman
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck

*Lines are subject to change.

How to watch Blackhawks at Jets

Start time: 6 p.m. CT

Location: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg

TV: WGN