Maple Leafs 1, Blackhawks 0
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CHICAGO (AP) _ Curtis Joseph made 27 saves for his sixth shutout of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a playoff berth with a 1-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night.
Steve Thomas scored in the second period for Toronto, which finishes its regular season Saturday at Ottawa.
The Maple Leafs won for the third time in four games and posted back-to-back victories for the first time since March 1.
Steve Passmore stopped 16 shots for Chicago, but the Blackhawks’ season-high winless streak reached 10 games (0-8-1-1). The Blackhawk are 0-5-1 since head coach Alpo Suhonen stepped aside on medical leave on March 27.
Chicago, which completes its season Sunday at Columbus, has been outscored 37-16 during its 10-game slide.
Thomas took a crossing pass from Jonas Hogland and ripped a one-timer from the right circle past Passmore at 6:35 of the second period.
The Blackhawks generating few chances, but had a brief offensive flurry late in the second. During a 4-on-4, Joseph was forced to make several quick saves, including back-to-back stops on Eric Daze and Jaroslav Spacek.
Joseph was lightly tested during most of the third as Chicago managed 11 shots. Joseph made a couple of tough saves in the final 1:22 after Passmore was pulled for an extra attacker.
Notes: The Blackhawks finished with a 14-21-4-2 home record, marking the fourth time in the last five years they’ve had a losing mark at the United Center. ...Chicago’s final home attendance of 600,302 represents a 10-percent slip over last season. ... After ``peaking″ at 20-20-4-1 on Jan. 19, the Blackhawks are 9-20-4-3 heading into their final game of the season Sunday at Columbus. ...Toronto is in the playoffs for the third straight year after missing in 1996-97 and 1997-98. ... The win moved the Maple Leafs nine games over .500. at 37-28-11-5. Their best margin this year was 10 over on Dec. 13 when they were 17-7-4-2.