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After Sunday's regular-season finale, the next time the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings could face is the Western Conference finals.
With the way the teams are playing lately, it's the Blackhawks - not the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings - who are primed for a postseason run.
Chicago will look to continue that momentum heading into its first postseason appearance in seven years on Sunday at home, while Detroit will try to finish the regular season on a positive note going into its title defense.
The fourth-seeded Blackhawks (45-24-12) will face Calgary in the first round, while the No. 2 seed Red Wings (51-20-10) will take on Anaheim or Columbus depending on Sunday's St. Louis-Colorado game.
If the Blues win, Detroit would get a first-round matchup with Columbus, otherwise it's the Ducks who come to Joe Louis Arena.
In opener of a home-and-home series Saturday in Detroit, Chicago clinched home ice against the Flames and snapped a five-game skid to the Red Wings with three third-period goals, including Dustin Byfuglien's penalty shot with 28 seconds left, in a 4-2 victory.
The win was the Blackhawks' fifth in six April games, with their only blemish a 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus on March 8.
"That's what we wanted - to go into the playoffs on a high note," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said.
Detroit, meanwhile, has dropped five of its last seven mainly due to giving up late goals. The Red Wings allowed two goals in the final 6:42 of regulation in a 4-3 shootout loss to visiting Nashville on Thursday night, and three third-period goals in home defeats to St. Louis on April 2 and to the Predators on March 29.
"We know we have to play better, especially in the third period, whether it's at home or on the road," captain and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. "In playoff hockey, it's going to be very important in the third period. We have to bear down and play a lot more solid defensively."
Detroit, however, is 7-1-0 away from home since March 3, and has won in both previous trips to Chicago, including a 6-4 victory in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Wrigley Field.
Both teams are expected to have their likely starting playoff goaltenders back in net for Sunday's game. After Cristobal Huet earned his first win since March 11, the Blackhawks will look to Nikolai Khabibulin, who is 1-3-1 with a 3.37 goals-against average in his last six appearances against the Red Wings.
Chris Osgood will make his first start against Chicago this season and is 12-1-2 with a 2.10 GAA in his last 16 appearances versus the Blackhawks.
Both teams will again be short-handed offensively for Sunday's game. Detroit likely won't have leading goal-scorer Marian Hossa due to a groin injury, but Hossa, who reached 40 goals for the second time in his career, is expected to return for the playoffs.
Chicago is expected to play without Patrick Sharp, who has missed four games with an undisclosed injury. The Blackhawks, however, could get forwards Kris Versteeg (upper body) and Samuel Pahlsson (personal reasons) back in the lineup.
Johan Franzen, who is second on the Red Wings with a career-high 34 goals, signed an 11-year deal worth $43.5 million on Saturday.
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