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Blackhawks will begin playoffs on road after loss to Wild

Cal Clutterbuck MinnesotWild checks Johnny Oduyinboards during third period Thursday night. Clutterbuck scored tying goal for Wild third. | Hannah

Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild checks Johnny Oduya into the boards during the third period Thursday night. Clutterbuck scored the tying goal for the Wild in the third. | Hannah Foslien~Getty Images

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Updated: May 7, 2012 8:24AM



ST. PAUL, Minn. — With one game left, the Blackhawks still don’t know whom they’ll face in the first round of the playoffs. But they know one thing: The postseason will begin on the road.

The chances of the Hawks earning home ice were slim regardless of how well they played. They needed help and some luck.

And they just didn’t get enough of it.

With their 2-1 shootout loss Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, the Hawks still have a chance of catching the Detroit Red Wings for fifth place in the West. But the Nashville Predators eliminated the Hawks from home-ice contention and the Dallas Stars from the playoff race with a 2-0 victory.

The fifth seed is still a possibility for the Hawks if they beat the Red Wings (101 points) in regulation Saturday in Detroit because they own the tiebreaker. The Predators have 102 points to the Hawks’ 99.

Either way, the Hawks will begin on the road, where they’ve gone 17-18-5.

“I don’t think that’s too big of a deal,” winger Viktor Stalberg said. “We didn’t play too well on the road starting off the year or the middle of the year, but as the season progressed, we’ve started to become a better road team. We’re pretty comfortable in different barns. We’ll see who we end up playing.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said he was looking for consistency and a purpose from his team in the last two regular-season games.

Goalie Corey Crawford lost his shutout bid in the final minutes, but he deserves all the credit for the Hawks getting at least a point. Devin Setoguchi had the only goal in the shootout as the Wild handed the Hawks back-to-back shootout losses.

Josh Harding (22 saves) stopped Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Stalberg as he blanked the Hawks after they took a 1-0 lead on Jamal Mayers’ first-period goal.

Bryan Bickell’s high-sticking penalty at 15:40 in the third period gave the Wild a better chance in a period in which it allowed only one shot on goal.

Marco Scandella’s shot from the point deflected off Cal Clutterbuck’s knee and past Crawford (26 saves).

Bickell also had a goal waved off in the third that would’ve given the Hawks a 2-0 lead because his stick was above the crossbar.

“They waved it off on the ice, and the people in Toronto said it was no goal,” Bickell said. “It was a tough bounce, and I took a penalty right after that, and they scored. ... It was a tough penalty to take.”

The Hawks all said the goal is to play a more complete game Saturday and enter the playoffs with some momentum. Some production on the power play also would help.

After some recent success, the Hawks went 0-for-4 on the power play, including a five-minute opportunity when Nate Prosser head-butted Mayers late in the first period.

“Everyone is excited about getting to the playoffs and getting to the postseason, especially with the up-and-down year we’ve had,” Kane said. “We still had a good year. We’re close to 100 points.

‘‘We’re happy about what we have in here. We’re confident about our team. The last thing we’re worried about is where we’re starting.”



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