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Blues drop 6th straight, give Avs Central crown
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - Justin Abdelkader's two goals and Petr Mrazek's 23-save shutout sent the spiraling St. Louis Blues to their sixth straight regulation loss, a 3-0 setback that concluded the regular season for both clubs.
The defeat allowed Colorado to clinch the Central Division and the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Western Conference playoffs, where the Blues will take on defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the opening round.
Prior to its skid, the longest by the Blues since a seven-gamer from Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010, St. Louis owned a seven-point advantage on the Avalanche for first place. The team has mustered an anemic five goals while being shut out three times during the stretch.
"You look at the big picture," an optimistic Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said afterward. "The big picture is we set a record for [wins]. We had a brutal stretch here at the end. Everyone went through a brutal stretch. The teams that had the Olympians, at some period of time, they hit the wall. Chicago's stretch was right after the break, ours happened now."
Detroit (39-28-15), already locked into a quarterfinal matchup with the Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston Bruins in the East, also received a goal from Riley Sheahan and two assists by Pavel Datsyuk in support of Mrazek's second career shutout.
"It's always good to end the season on a good note heading into the playoffs, and I think we're doing a lot of good things of late and looking forward to the Boston series in the first round," said Abdelkader. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
Ryan Miller finished with just 18 saves for St. Louis (52-23-7), which nonetheless set a new franchise high for wins in one season.
Playing without three of their top five point producers and a few other key regulars, the Blues generated few scoring chances and were outplayed by their former division rival for much of the game.
"It's a mixture of things, but we've got to get more [chances] inside," Blues forward Alexander Steen said of the team's scoring struggles. "A lot of the stuff's being generated on the outside. The power play hasn't really been clicking the last few games here."
The Red Wings had a power-play tally by Tomas Tatar midway through the first period waved off when Joakim Andersson was called for interfering Miller, but had a goal count moments later to gain the upper hand.
Datsyuk forced a turnover in the neutral zone before sending a pass to Brian Lashoff, whose long shot bounced off Abdelkader's body and went in as the Detroit forward screened Miller with 6:31 left in the opening frame.
Mrazek made the lead stand up with a diving right pad save on Maxim Lapierre with around eight minutes to go in the second period, and Sheahan made it a 2-0 game when his wrist shot from the left circle went through Miller's pads 3:41 prior to the final intermission.
The Blues put up 10 shots in the third period, but Mrazek turned them all aside to complete the whitewash. Abdelkader put the finishing touches on the victory with a pretty redirection of a Datsyuk feed while skating towards the St. Louis net with 7:17 left to play.
The Blues played without forwards David Backes (lower body), T.J. Oshie (upper body), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Vladimir Sobotka (undisclosed), while defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Barret Jackman were rested ... Forward Johan Franzen and defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser were healthy scratches for Detroit, with blueliner Ryan Sproul making his NHL debut in the game ... Sheahan has now scored in three straight games ... The Red Wings ended the regualar season 21-15-5 on the road, while St. Louis went 28-9-4 on home ice.
04/13 18:07:39 ET