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Blues brush off missed opportunity to tie for Central Division lead

Remain focused on final two games after shootout loss to Blackhawks

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Blues were a few minutes removed from their 4-3 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday when David Perron was looking at the team's potential points. 

"We'll scramble to get as many points as we can, and if we can get four more here and get 99, that would be huge for our club," Perron said. "Who knows where it'll take us."

The Blues (43-28-9) were hoping for another point against the Blackhawks, one that would have put them in a three-way tie with the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division. Each has two games remaining.

If they end up tied in points and it comes down to a tiebreaker, the Jets have 44 regulation/overtime wins; the Predators and Blues each have 41. 

Be it winning the division or moving to second to get home-ice advantage in the first round, the Blues will be fighting for a lot in these final two games. But considering they went from last in the NHL on Jan. 2 to clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on March 29, what's one more challenge?

"Every night was a playoff game for us no matter what, just to get where we are right now," forward Pat Maroon said. "It's just the character; it shows we stuck together, we played for each other. It's all come together."

Video: STL@CHI: Bozak ties the game in the final minute

The Blues want to be playing as sharp as possible heading into the playoffs. They weren't on Wednesday, when a slow start and sloppy play left them trailing 3-1 after Patrick Kane's 42nd goal at 11:37 of the third period. But Perron scored 46 seconds later to cut Chicago's lead to 3-2, and Tyler Bozak tied the game 3-3 with 39 seconds remaining in the third period.

St. Louis coach Craig Berube wasn't concerned about the early lack of focus.

"There's a lot at stake, but we have a playoff spot wrapped up and it's tough to play these games," he said. "You're playing a team that really has nothing to play for and they can be hard games. It takes a lot of mental approach to get yourself ready to play."

The Blues have shown a lot of mental toughness throughout this season. They've gone 28-10-5 since Jan. 2, when they were 15-18-4 and had the fewest points in the NHL (34).

Bozak expects the final two games will be the same.

"We've been playing a really good team game the second half of the year so we just want to stick with what we've been doing," he said. "We want to win both games and just keep good habits and get ready for the playoffs. We have two home games, which is nice. Hopefully we can take advantage of that and move up and get home ice."

Video: STL@CHI: Tarasenko snaps a perfect shot past Ward

The Blues will play their final two games at Enterprise Center, where they are 22-15-2 this season. They play the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW+, NBCSP+, NHL.TV), and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Both opponents are eliminated playoff contention. 

Winnipeg's final two games are on the road, against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, TSN3, NHL.TV), and the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday. The Predators are home for their final two games, against the Canucks on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, SNP, NHL.TV), and the Blackhawks on Saturday.

Getting two points in Chicago would have been ideal. The Blues still could win the division, still could get home ice for part of the playoffs, but most of all they want to be playing their best hockey heading into the postseason.  

"I mean, we talk about it a lot, about home-ice advantage is up for grabs, the division, lots of things that are still there that you can get," Berube said. "We need to play consistent hockey here going into the playoffs."

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