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Khabibulin, Blackhawks blank Red Wings

CHICAGO (AP) -- Nikolai Khabibulin looked like a playoff-ready

goaltender, even if the game had little meaning.

Khabibulin had 37 saves Sunday to get his 41st career shutout as

the Chicago Blackhawks tuned up for their first postseason

appearance in seven years by beating the Detroit Red Wings, 3-0,

in the regular-season finale.

"It's definitely nice to finish on a high note. The game didn't

mean much for either team, but you want to have good habits

going into the playoffs," Khabibulin said.

"For a goalie, I think anytime you get a shutout it's good.

Having said that, you know tomorrow is another day and the

regular season doesn't matter anymore."

Chicago's victory was its second in 24 hours against the Red

Wings, coming on the heels of Saturday's 4-2 win at Detroit. The

Blackhawks won their final two meetings against their longtime

rival after going 0-2-2 in the first four, including a loss in

the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day.

The Blackhawks finished the season with a rush, going 6-0-1 in

their final seven games. They had already clinched the fourth

seed in the Western Conference and will open the playoffs this

week at home against Calgary. Chicago won all four meetings with

the Flames this season.

"We're happy we got home ice. Everybody looks at the success we

had against them this year, but that obviously means nothing at

this point," Chicago's Jonathan Toews said of the Flames.

"It's a new season, a new beginning. We're happy to be here at

home. We got a lot of momentum going and we got to build off

that. And obviously don't let off the gas pedal for a second."

The defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings had already locked

down the No. 2 spot in the West and will play Columbus in the

first round. The Red Wings finished the season 3-6-1 in the

final 10 games, including the two losses to the Blackhawks.

"It's good we got this over with and no one got hurt in these

last two games," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

"You always like to go into the playoffs rolling. We're not

going into the playoffs rolling. We get a day off tomorrow and

get prepared. It's not like we haven't been through it before.

We understand what it takes and how hard it is going to be."

Andrew Ladd and Toews scored first-period goal for Chicago and

Dave Bolland converted on the power play in the third.

Khabibulin's shutout was his third this season.

"He must have five, six, seven Grade A chances. He was

outstanding," Babcock of said Khabibulin.

Ladd's 15th goal of the season almost eight minutes in gave the

Hawks a 1-0 lead. Dustin Byfuglien circled with the puck, made a

nice pass to Brent Seabrook, who found Ladd wide open on the

other side of the net where he easily beat Chris Osgood.

Later in the opening period, Toews appeared to lose the puck as

he approached the left side of the net, cut through the crease

and then managed to reach back and jam it under Osgood for his

34th goal and a 2-0 lead.

With Detroit on a power play, Chicago's Colin Fraser shook loose

on a short-handed breakaway but Osgood was able to snuff the

attempt. Moments later the Red Wings had a two-man advantage,

but Detroit couldn't score against Khabibulin, who had 17

first-period saves.

"I was seeing the puck pretty well. I got lucky a couple of

times. That's usually how you get shutouts," Khabibulin said.

Khabibulin stopped a short-handed breakaway by Johan Franzen

early in the final period, and Bolland scored five minutes in

with a slappper from between the circles.

Now it's time for the playoffs, a place where the Blackhawks

have been strangers most of the last decade.

"We played some playoff-type hockey at the end of the season. We

prepared ourselves," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "They

(the Flames) will be ready. They're a dangerous team."



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