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game recap

Tarasenko, Blues rally for OT win against Blackhawks

St. Louis stays in race for No. 1 seed in West; Chicago will finish third in Central

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

Tarasenko's overtime winner

STL@CHI: Tarasenko sinks game winner in OT

4/7/16: Vladimir Tarasenko finishes off the fine passing for the overtime winner, his 39th of the season, giving the Blues a 2-1 victory

  • 01:19 •

CHICAGO -- Vladimir Tarasenko and Brian Elliott made sure the St. Louis Blues clinched home-ice advantage for the Western Conference First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and kept them alive for the No.1 seed.

Tarasenko and Elliott each came up big late in the Blues' 2-1 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday.

Elliott made three of his 24 saves in overtime, and Tarasenko scored at 18:44 of the third period and 3:37 of the extra period to help the Blues (49-23-9, 107 points) pull off a come-from-behind victory that kept them even with the Dallas Stars atop the Central Division.

"It's [an] important two points," said Tarasenko, who had two overtime goals at United Center this season. "It's always good to win away [from St. Louis]. Doesn't matter if it's against Chicago or another team. The win against a really good team before the playoffs is good for our confidence."

Video: STL@CHI: Tarasenko evens score late in 3rd

St. Louis and Dallas each has one game remaining. The Blues conclude the regular season against the Washington Capitals at Scottrade Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, CSN-DC, FS-MW). The Stars, who won 4-2 against the Colorado Avalanche, finish against the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-SW+, NHL.TV).

"The whole focus was home ice and continue to keep pushing towards first place," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Every team has to play now. Dallas has to play for points, we've got to play for points. We'll just see where it goes. It's nice to know that we're going to have home ice no matter who the opponent is."

It's also nice knowing Elliott is in net.

Goalie Jake Allen is out with a lower-body injury, but Elliott has been better than good. He has an NHL career-high seven straight road victories and tied a Blues record by winning his 11th straight decision (Brent Johnson, 2001-02).

Video: STL@CHI: Toews' wrister puts Blackhawks in front

Elliott, who is 13-1-1 since the All-Star break, made his biggest saves in overtime. Two were early in OT against Patrick Kane, who had scored five goals in the previous three games.

Elliott also made a save against Andrew Ladd on a penalty shot with 4:58 left in the third and the Blackhawks clinging to a 1-0 lead.

"I just tried to get my shoulder into it and take away that top corner," Elliott said. "He got a good shot off of it [on] the first opportunity. I didn't really think I was going to take a penalty shot there, but it's a good response after that. The guys picked me up a little bit and really pressured."

Chicago had a 1-0 lead thanks to center Jonathan Toews, who scored for a third straight game. Toews opened the scoring at 12:40 of the second period when he beat Elliott from the left wing during 4-on-4 play after getting the puck from Kane. It was his 28th goal.

Video: STL@CHI: Elliott denies Ladd on penalty shot

It nearly stood up as the game-winner, but Tarasenko tied it with 1:16 left in the third and Elliott on the bench for an extra attacker. Following a shot by Kevin Shattenkirk, Tarasenko sent the rebound into the net past Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33 saves).

In overtime, Tarasenko scored off a tic-tac-toe passing play started by Paul Stastny and Alex Pietrangelo, who pulled Darling out of position to leave the net wide open for Tarasenko to score from the slot.

Chicago needed a regulation win to keep alive its chance to catch either the Stars or Blues. The Blackhawks (47-28-8, 102 points) will finish third in the Central and start the playoffs on the road at Dallas or St. Louis.

Chicago plays at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday in its regular-season finale.

Video: STL@CHI: Elliott dives to make an incredible save

"It hurts," Kane said. "Hurts for sure. I thought we played a great game up to that point against a good team, and you give one up with [1:16] left and we're in a position where you've got to score in [1:16] to basically put yourself in a good position to try and get home ice. Obviously, it didn't happen."

The Blackhawks haven't won against a Western Conference team that will be in the playoffs since defeating the Stars 5-1 on Feb. 6, a span of 12 games.

"It would have been nice tonight," Kane said. "We were in a good situation. I thought we played pretty well all night. We had some chances going the other way that could have made the score a little bit different, but [it] didn't turn out that way, obviously. We've got to be better at finishing off those games."

Each team played without several regulars.

Video: STL@CHI: Elliott flashes the leather with big stop

The Blackhawks were missing forwards Marian Hossa (lower-body injury), Andrew Shaw (upper body) and Artem Anisimov (upper body), goalie Corey Crawford (upper body), and defenseman Duncan Keith (suspension).

The Blues didn't have Allen, center David Backes (lower body) and forwards Steve Ott (colitis) and Robby Fabbri (lower body).

Crawford is expected to return against Columbus after missing 12 straight games and the past 11 while injured. The Blues might get one or more players back against the Capitals in what amounts to their biggest game this season.

"We've got a lot to play for," Hitchcock said. "Both Dallas and us do. It's not just home ice for one series. It's home ice for a lot. There's a lot at stake now, which is a good sign."

Video: Tarasenko carries Blues to comeback win

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