CHICAGO (AP) — Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger scored in the third period, and the Chicago Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot with a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
Kruger also had an assist on Teuvo Teravainen’s first-period goal, and Corey Crawford made 34 saves in Chicago’s third straight win. The Blackhawks (47-24-6) remained one point back of St. Louis for second in the Central Division.
Derek Dorsett scored for Vancouver (45-28-5), which was coming off consecutive wins at St. Louis and Nashville. Eddie Lack finished with 35 stops.
The teams were tied at 1 when Toews pushed home a rebound at 8:09. It was Toews’ third goal in the last four games and No. 26 on the season.
The Canucks almost had a quick response, but Crawford made a great stop on Nick Bonino, drawing chants of “Co-rey! Co-rey!” from the crowd. Crawford also denied a streaking Yannick Weber before Toews’ tiebreaking goal, with a crestfallen Weber skating off with his head down.
Kruger finished the scoring at 10:31, beating Lack with a nifty backhand for his seventh goal.
Chicago plays again Friday night in Buffalo, and then hosts St. Louis on Sunday night. The Blackhawks and Blues also play next Thursday in St. Louis.
The Blackhawks jumped in front in the first period when their fourth line of Teravainen, Kruger and Andrew Desjardins continued their recent strong play with an extended stretch in the offensive zone. Kruger got open in front and was stopped by Lack, but stayed with it and fed Teravainen for the rookie’s fourth goal at 6:51.
Teravainen had a whopping eight shots in 13 1/2 minutes in Chicago’s 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
The Blackhawks stayed in front until the final two minutes of the period, when defenseman Michal Rozsival made a costly mistake that Dorsett turned into his seventh goal of the season. Rozsival’s pass went right to Dorsett, who skated to his right before sending a shot over Crawford’s right shoulder at 18:46.
Each team had chances to go in front in the second, but Crawford and Lack were there each time. Crawford kicked away a prime opportunity for Alexandre Burrows and stopped a tip by Radim Vrbata. Lack made a pad save when Brandon Saad skated in on a breakaway in the final minute.
NOTES: The Canucks won each of the first two games against the Blackhawks this season. … Blackhawks F Patrick Kane (broken collarbone) participated in the morning skate. He also practiced with the team Wednesday in a white non-contact jersey. … The Blackhawks agreed to a two-year contract with college free agent Tanner Kero, a forward from Michigan Tech who will report to Rockford of the American Hockey League. The 22-year-old Kero had 20 goals and 26 assists in 41 games in his senior year with the Huskies.
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