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game recap

Avalanche defeat Blues, clinch playoff berth

Colorado will play Nashville in Western Conference First Round

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-2 win against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

The Avalanche finished with 95 points, one ahead of the Blues for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference, and will play the Nashville Predators in the first round.

Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists, Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Bernier made 32 saves for Colorado (43-30-9), which ended a three-game losing streak.

 

[WATCH: All Blues vs. Avalanche highlights]

 

"I don't know what the odds were for us to win tonight, but we didn't give a (darn), to be honest with you," Landeskog said. "We just kept playing, and what a night. This is one heck of a group. I don't think I've ever been a part of a group with such team chemistry. Whether we made it or not, I'd still be really proud of this group. This is a big accomplishment to make it after such a tough season last year. We're not done."

The Avalanche made the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14 after finishing with an NHL-worst 48 points last season.

"It's got to be one of the best accomplishments in modern sports history," MacKinnon said. "We came in last by 20 points, we were the worst team in 25 years. We did the unthinkable. It's obviously a huge deal."

Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn each had a goal and an assist, and Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues (44-32-6), who lost five of their final six games (1-4-1).

"There's a lot of people, a lot, I mean, majority of people who didn't even give us a chance to be in this game, to be here," Allen said. "We had our ups and downs this year, it was a wild year. But we rallied and found a way to beat good teams at the right time and give ourselves a chance.

"Credit to Colorado, they've improved immensely over the last couple of years and they played well again tonight, obviously. It's tough to take. We gave ourselves a chance, but it was still not good enough."

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Avalanche clinch playoff berth

Blues coach Mike Yeo pulled Allen for an extra skater with 4:35 remaining in the third period and St. Louis down two, and Landeskog scored into the empty net at 3:23 to give the Avalanche a 4-1 lead.

Schenn cut it to 4-2 at 19:22 before Matt Nieto scored an empty-net goal at 19:51 to make it 5-2.

Samuel Girard gave Colorado a 1-0 lead with 46 seconds left in first period, scoring short side on a slap shot from the left point.

Tyson Barrie scored a power-play goal at 6:11 of the second period to make it 2-0. The Blues challenged for offside, but the call was upheld after a video review.

Video: STL@COL: Barrie nets PPG on scorching one-timer

Schwartz cut it to 2-1 with a power-play goal at 12:28, redirecting Alex Pietrangelo's shot past Bernier.

Video: STL@COL: Schwartz deflects Pietrangelo's shot for PPG

MacKinnon made it 3-1 at 16:58, beating Allen glove side on a 4-on-4. The goal was his first in 10 games.

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko left in the first period with an upper-body injury.

"He was very disappointed," Yeo said. "It was obviously a real tough loss to lose him two minutes into the hockey game."

 

Goal of the game

MacKinnon's goal at 16:58 of the second period.

Video: STL@COL: MacKinnon picks the corner on Allen

 

Save of the game

Bernier's save on Dmitrij Jaskin at 1:20 of the third period.

Video: STL@COL: Bernier shuts his pads to rob Jaskin

 

Highlight of the game

Girard's goal at 19:14 of the first period.

Video: STL@COL: Girard tees up slapper to beat Allen

 

They said it

"It just goes to show you what a group can do. When you believe in each other, when you believe in what we're trying to accomplish, and when you keep working towards that common goal, beautiful things can happen." -- Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog

 

"I was really proud of this team before tonight, and then to see them step up the way they did and finish the job of phase one of our season, I don't even know what to say." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar

 

"Right now, it is just tough to swallow, just an empty feeling. It's hard to dissect. We had our fair share of chances, 2-1 game, we hit two posts and a crossbar. We had (offensive) zone time, but they had some as well and obviously [Jake Allen] made some big saves to keep us in the game. It's just tough to dissect this." -- Blues forward Alexander Steen

 

Need to know

Colorado went 28-11-2 at home, tying its record for home wins set in 2000-01, when it won the Stanley Cup. … MacKinnon had 97 points (39 goals, 58 assists), the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 100 in 2006-07. … Carl Soderberg played his 400th NHL game. … Blues forward Chris Thorburn played his 800th NHL game.

 

What's next

Blues: Season over

Avalanche: At the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of Western Conference First Round, TBA

 

Video: Avalanche beat Blues to clinch playoff berth

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