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Blackhawks host playoff-bound Stars in home finale

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Chicago looks to win the season series against Dallas.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks battle the Dallas Stars Friday at the United Center. It is the final home game of the season for Chicago who have dropped every home finale since the 2013-2014 season.

In their previous match-up, the Blackhawks won a nail-biter 2-1 on the road in Dallas. Chicago is 2-1 against Dallas this season and can clinch the season series with a win.

The Stars are heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since the 2015-2016 season when they won the Central Division title with 109 points. This season, Dallas has clinched a wild card spot; however, their opponent is still to be determined. They have accumulated 91 points in 80 games, and sit one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche who only have one game remaining. If the Stars fail to grab a point in their final two games and the Avs beat the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, Dallas will have to play the Calgary Flames, the top seed in the Western Conference.

Dallas’ offensive attack revolves around center Tyler Seguin (31 G, 46 A), wingers Alexander Radulov (29 G, 41 A) and Jamie Benn (27 G, 25 A), as well as their offensively gifted defenseman John Klingberg (10 G, 34 A). Klingberg is dangerous from the blue line and would be in the Norris trophy discussion if he had not missed 18 games earlier in the season with a hand injury. These four skaters are the only Stars with more than 40 points. As a result, Dallas are 29th in goals scored and only average 2.6 goals per game.

Although Dallas has a below average offense, they make up for it with a well-structured defensive scheme. They are above-average or one of the top 5 in almost every major defensive category - scoring chances against, high danger chances allowed, goals against, save percentage at 5-on-5 and penalty kill success rate.

Netminder Anton Khudobin is expected to start for the Stars, since Ben Bishop is still nursing a lower-body injury. In Khudobin’s previous trip to the United Center, he was stellar and stopped 44 of 47 shots in a 4-3 victory that was one of the notable turning points in the Blackhawks playoff push.

Chicago comes into Friday’s tilt against Dallas with their playoff hopes crushed, but hope to continue to play spoiler against another central division rival. Patrick Kane found his magic touch against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night and set a new career high in points. Captain Jonathan Toews scored his 35th goal of the season, which is also a career high. One thing to keep an eye on is the goals competition between Kane and 21-year old sniper Alex DeBrincat. Kane has 42 on the season and DeBrincat has 41. Last season, DeBrincat captured the team goal scoring title with 28 goals, while Kane had 27. Fans can expect a healthy competition between the two in the final two games of the season.

David Kampf is slated to return for the Blackhawks after taking a puck in the face during the 3-2 OT loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Mar. 30. Marcus Kruger will not be in the lineup. Additionally, defenseman Carl Dahlstrom will be a healthy scratch. Slater Koekkoek will slot into the Dahlstrom’s spot in the lineup.

Corey Crawford, who did everything he could to keep the Blackhawks playoff hopes alive over the last month, is expected to start for Chicago. He carries a 7-3-3 record and a .928 save-percentage in his last 13 starts.

The Stars are expected to rest Benn, trade deadline acquisition Mats Zuccarello and defenseman Roman Polak to prepare for their playoff run. However, with seeding still up in the air for the Stars, the Blackhawks will need to prepare for another hard fought playoff-style game.

Lineups

Blackhawks

Caggiula — Toews — Kane

DeBrincat — Strome — Perlini

Saad — Anisimov — Kahun

Kunitz — Kampf — Hayden

Keith — Gustafsson

Koekoek — Murphy

Forsling — Seabrook

Crawford

Ward

Stars

Dickinson - Seguin - Radulov

Janmark - Faksa - Comeau

Hintz - Dowling - Pitlick

L’Esperance - Spezza - Ritchie

Lindell - Klingberg

Heiskanen - Lovejoy

Oleksiak - Fedun

Khudobin

Bow

How to watch

When: 7:30 p.m., Central

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago