|Blackhawks, Flyers match up, in need of crucial victory|
While the Chicago Blackhawks continue to push for a spot in the playoffs, the hope of a postseason place for the Philadelphia Flyers seems to be fading.
Both of these desperate clubs will look to bounce back from frustrating results when they meet Thursday night in Chicago.
The Blackhawks took a five-game winning streak into Monday's home matchup with Vancouver, and though they came away with a point in the 3-2 overtime defeat, it was a missed opportunity for a team with little room for error down the stretch.
Chicago, amid that 5-0-1 stretch, is four points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, and has some traffic in the way just to reach playoff position.
Defenseman Eric Gustafsson's goal late in the third period tied Monday's game at 2, but the Canucks scored 16 seconds into the extra session to stun Chicago and its fans.
"We can't give up chances like that right off the hop," captain Jonathan Toews told the Blackhawks' official website.
"We need to win every game. We needed to win (Monday), and we'll need to win the next one. That's all we can really think about."
Toews scored his 31st goal, leaving him three shy of equaling a career high set in 2008-09. Teammate Patrick Kane added two assists and has 101 points on the season. Kane has 29 points in the Blackhawks' last 15 home contests.
One game after recording a career-high 48 saves during a 2-0 win in his home town of Montreal, Corey Crawford stopped 31 shots versus Vancouver. The Chicago netminder has a 1.74 goals-against average during the 5-0-1 stretch.
Crawford managed just 21 saves in a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 10.
The Flyers could use another performance like that as their playoff chances in the East continue to dwindle. Philadelphia has dropped three of four and sits six points out of the final wild-card position in the conference.
On Tuesday, the Flyers fell behind 2-0 at home to Montreal -- the team directly above them in the conference standings -- and lost 3-1. Sean Couturier's 30th goal, one off matching his career high set last season, got Philadelphia within a goal near the midway point of the third period, but it proved not enough.
"Definitely need that game, but we've got nine games left," rookie goalie Carter Hart, who made 33 saves Tuesday, told the Flyers' official website.
"Mathematically, we're not out of it. So, there's still a chance, and that's what the mindset has to be in (the) locker room."
Hart has stopped 74 of the 77 shots he's faced while Philadelphia has split its last two games. Brian Elliott, who shut out the Blackhawks on 33 saves in November, stopped 44 pucks in a wild 7-6 loss at Toronto on Friday, in his most recent start.
Despite their recent overall struggles, the Flyers find themselves amid a 9-2-1 road stretch.
Couturier has at least a point in five consecutive road contests, and six goals with 12 assists in his last 14 away from home. He had two goals with an assist against the Blackhawks earlier this season.
--Field Level Media