The St. Louis Blues have two games left to end their playoff drought at three seasons.
They'll try to take another step toward the postseason Friday night when they look for a seventh straight home win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have already clinched the franchise's first playoff berth.
St. Louis (39-31-10) is tied with Anaheim and Nashville for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference with 88 points. While the Blues and Ducks have two games remaining, the Predators have one.
That means the Blues need three points to secure their first postseason berth since 2004.
"It's in our hands," St. Louis forward Brad Boyes said. "We've put ourselves in position to control it. If anything happens, we're the ones to blame."
The Blues have won seven of nine, including a 5-1 victory at Phoenix on Tuesday that completed a 3-1-1 road trip. St. Louis has also won four straight at home, where they last played in a 4-3 shootout win over Columbus (41-29-10) on March 28.
"We've been thriving under this heat," St. Louis coach Andy Murray said Thursday. "Why not again tomorrow?"
St. Louis finishes the regular season Sunday at Western Conference-worst Colorado. The Blues are in playoff position despite injuries to forward Paul Kariya (hip), defenseman Erik Johnson (knee), captain Eric Brewer (back).
"We've sold the same message every day, and the players have gone out and played hard every single day as well," Murray said. "On one hand I can count how many games our team didn't play hard this year."
The Blue Jackets, who entered the NHL in 2000, clinched their first playoff berth Wednesday with a 4-3 shootout victory at Chicago. They need one point in their final two games to ensure finishing at least sixth in the West.
"It's been a long time coming for a lot of people in this franchise who have worked very hard," Columbus general manager Scott Howson said. "We're all very proud of the fact that we've accomplished the first goal and first challenge of making the playoffs and now we'll try and push the bar a little higher."
Columbus rallied from a 2-0 deficit after one period Wednesday, getting the tying goal from Rick Nash with 5:30 left in regulation. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin scored the lone goal in the shootout.
"To get that one point was huge, to come back after being down 2-0," Nash said. "To get the win was even more important. We're going to try to win these last two games to keep our position in the standings. I don't know if it's quite sunk in yet. We're so used to playing out the season."
The Blues are 4-1-0 against Columbus this year, including a sweep of a home-and-home series March 28-29. The Blue Jackets are 0-5-1 at St. Louis since a 4-1 win on March 27, 2007.
Columbus may choose to rest some players with less at stake than St. Louis, and it's unclear whether left wing Kristian Huselius will return to action Friday. Huselius has missed the last two games with concussion-like symptoms, but skated Thursday on the day off for the Blue Jackets.