Dmitrij Jaskin broke a scoreless tie late in the second period and Paul Stastny added an insurance goal Thursday as the St. Louis Blues knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 to clinch the Central Division title and home-ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Blues’ win and Nashville’s 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Thursday gave the Blues (50-24-7, 107 points) their first division title since 2011-12 and only their third since 1986-87.
The Blues play host to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in the final regular-season game with a chance to overtake Anaheim for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
The Blackhawks broke up Blues goalie Jake Allen’s shutout bid with 2:39 remaining when Andrew Shaw scored a rebound goal following a Blues turnover at the other end. The Blues also beat the Blackhawks 2-1 on Sunday in Chicago, with Allen stopping 38 of 39 shots.
Jaskin’s power-play goal came after former Blues first-round draft pick David Rundblad picked up a four-minute double-minor penalty for high-sticking Blues center Jori Lehtera with 3:39 remaining in the second period.
A shot by Alex Pietrangelo hit David Backes on the way in and Jaskin was there to clean up the rebound. It ended a goal drought by the Blues that had lasted 121 minutes, 58 seconds and Jaskin celebrated by throwing himself chest first into the glass behind the Chicago goal.
Jaskin, who has three goals in six career games against the Blackhawks, had another quality scoring chance from close range about a minute later as the power-play continued. The goal was his 12th in 53 games this season.
Chicago nearly tied it with 13:45 remaining when Bryan Bickell forced a turnover by Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, but Allen was there to turn the shot away.
The Blues broke in 3-on-1 against Crawford in the third period when Jaden Schwartz set up Stastny in the right faceoff circle with 5:55 remaining. It was Stastny’s 16th goal this season.
Before Jaskin’s goal, the best scoring chances for both teams seemed to come when they were short-handed.