CHICAGO — Patrick Kane scored twice and Cam Ward made 25 saves in his 700th NHL game, helping the Chicago Blackhawks pound the short-handed Dallas Stars 6-1 on Friday night in their home finale.
Dylan Strome, Chris Kunitz and Dominik Kahun also scored for Chicago, which earned its second straight win and improved to 3-0-2 in its past five. Slater Koekkoek added his second of the season, and Brent Seabrook had two assists.
Dallas (42-32-7) clinched a playoff spot with Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory over Philadelphia, but it needs at least one more point to secure the Western Conference’s top wild card.
The Stars host Minnesota in their season finale, and Colorado is just one point back heading into its final game at San Jose later Saturday night.
Captain Jamie Benn, goaltender Ben Bishop, forward Mats Zuccarello and defenceman Roman Polak skipped the trip to Chicago. Bishop remained sidelined by a lower-body injury, and Benn, Zuccarello and Polak got a chance to rest.
Joel L’Esperance scored for Dallas in the third period, and Anton Khudobin made 26 stops.
The 35-year-old Ward became the 28th goaltender to reach 700 games when he came in after Corey Crawford departed in the second with a groin injury. He made a point-blank save on Tyler Seguin in the final minute of the period.
Chicago (36-33-12) grabbed control with four goals in a span of six shots overlapping the second and third periods.
Kahun kicked it off when he poked a rebound through Khubobin’s legs at 11:11. Then Kunitz was awarded his fifth goal when a replay review showed his bouncing shot just crossed the line before it was swept away. Strome added his 20th of the season when he made the most of a fortunate deflection with 2:09 left in the second, and Koekkoek made it 5-0 with a sharp-angled shot 44 seconds into the third.
After L’Esperance got Dallas on the board at 7:18, Kane got his 44th goal when he slipped a backhand under Khudobin on a breakaway with 3:49 to go. Kane has three goals and four assists in his past five games and needs two goals in Saturday night’s finale to match his career high of 46 from the 2015-16 season.
NOTES: Stars F Justin Dowling returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury. … Blackhawks F David Kampf played after he missed the previous two games with a facial injury. Marcus Kruger was scratched. … Dallas also scratched F Andrew Cogliano.
Stars: Host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
Blackhawks: Visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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Jay Cohen, The Associated Press