ST. LOUIS -- The Colorado Avalanche became the second team to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth when they defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2 at Enterprise Center on Thursday.
Colorado (31-9-4), which returned after it had three games postponed due to NHL COVID-19 protocol, joined the Vegas Golden Knights, who lead the Honda West Division by two points over the Avalanche.
"I thought it was pretty good," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "The start of the game we looked a little big sluggish with the pace of our play. Our urgency got better as the game went on. It was a real good game for us for being the first one back. Pretty happy to get that result.
"Hopefully we can go and keep this thing going down the stretch run and into the playoffs and we can achieve the ultimate goal, which is why we're all here."
Andre Burakovsky scored twice, Nathan MacKinnon had three assists, and Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves for his second win in two starts for the Avalanche, who have won five straight and are 18-1-2 their past 21 games.
"We played a real disciplined game today," Burakovsky said. "That may be why we won the game. We're doing all the right things. We have to come out and compete in every game."
Video: COL@STL: Burakovsky gets a fortunate bounce for PPG
Jaden Schwartz scored twice, and Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for St. Louis (19-19-6), which has lost three straight and remained one point behind the Arizona Coyotes for fourth in the division with three games in hand. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs.
"We cause our own problems," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "This is a good enough hockey team to get through this, but in saying that, there's got to be a lot more composure within our veteran group here. We have a lot of veterans on this team that have won and have won a championship (in 2019), and we've got to have more composure in our game. That's the bottom line. Things are going to happen out there that are out of your control, but we're not controlling what we can control."
Video: COL@STL: Jost sets up Saad for impressive goal in 1st
Schwartz gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead at 3:18 of the first period with a one-timer from the slot on the power play.
Brandon Saad tied it 1-1 with 32 seconds left in the period after Tyson Jost knocked down an attempted outlet pass by Zach Sanford near the blue line.
"It felt good," Jost said. "St. Louis got a power play there and the period was winding down and we had to respond. I knocked it down. We scored. It definitely felt good. You never know how it's going to go when you've been off that long."
Burakovsky gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 6:45 of the second period before making it 3-1 at 11:29 of the third off a turnover by Marco Scandella along the boards.
Schwartz scored his second under the blocker of Dubnyk to cut it to 3-2 at 13:43, but Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored an empty-net goal at 18:29 for the 4-2 final.
"It wasn't the result we wanted today," Schwartz said. "Did some good things at times but weren't able to get to our game as much as we would have liked. Got to regroup and look at some stuff and just worry about the next game. We've got to take advantage of some of these games coming up."
NOTES: This was the first of a three-game set. The teams play here Saturday and Monday. … Colorado has qualified for the playoffs in four consecutive seasons. … Colorado played without goalie Philipp Grubauer and forwards Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi; each remains in the NHL COVID-19 protocol. ... MacKinnon extended his point streak to 12 games (seven goals, 14 assists). ... Bednar coached his 360th game with the Avalanche (176-145-39), passing Bob Hartley for second in Colorado/Quebec Nordiques history behind Michel Bergeron (634). ... Defenseman Patrik Nemeth made his Avalanche debut after being acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings on April 9. He had a game-high six blocks and was a plus-2 in 21:06. ... Blues defenseman Vince Dunn had an assist to extend his NHL career-high point streak to six games (one goal, seven assists).
Video: Avalanche clinch playoff berth with 4-2 win vs. Blues