ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis earned home-ice advantage for the first round of the NHL playoffs by beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 on Saturday as the regular season ended for all but two teams.
Brian Elliott made 22 saves and Jaden Schwartz had his first two-goal game as the Blues secured fourth place in the Western Conference and set up a clash with defending champion Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs.
In other key games, Washington beat Boston in overtime to knock the Bruins off the top of the Northeast Division, replaced by Montreal which beat Toronto, while Phoenix defeated playoff-bound Anaheim.
Los Angeles beat San Jose to ensure those sides finished fifth and sixth respectively in the Western Conference, Pittsburgh put eight past Carolina and Detroit beat Dallas to ensure it returns to the playoffs for the 22nd straight year.
St. Louis was aided by meeting a Chicago lineup that rested many regular players, having already secured the Presidents’ Trophy and home advantage throughout the playoffs.
Ben Smith, who was playing in his first game of the season, scored for Chicago.
The two-goal game was the first of Schwartz’s career. Patrik Berglund also scored for St. Louis and David Backes had two assists to give him 300 points for his career.
Washington’s Eric Fehr scored on a power play in overtime as the Capitals beat Boston 3-2.
The Bruins need to beat Ottawa in Sunday’s stand-alone game to snatch back the Northeast title from Montreal.
The NHL regular season originally was supposed to end Saturday, but the game between Bruins and Senators was rescheduled because of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference put Boston ahead 2-0 before Washington captain Alex Ovechkin assisted on Mike Green’s two power-play scores within less than two minutes in the third period.
Montreal took top spot in the Northeast for the time being by defeating Toronto 4-1.
Despending on the outcome of the Boston-Ottawa game, this may have been a precursor to a playoff series between the two Canadian heavyweights.
Lars Eller had a goal and two assists for Montreal, who rested goalie Carey Price.
Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata had three goals, capping his hat trick with a short-handed score, as the Coyotes beat Anaheim 5-3.
Jason LaBarbera made 22 of his 43 saves in the third period to preserve the victory for Phoenix, which heads prematurely into another offseason with question marks over the franchise’s future.
As the second seed in the West, Anaheim will meet seventh-seeded Detroit in the opening round of the playoffs.
Los Angeles’ Justin Williams scored in the third period to give the Kings a 3-2 win over San Jose, after the two teams entered the game locked together on points.
Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the Kings, who will begin their title defense at fourth-seeded St. Louis, which moved above Los Angeles and San Jose in the last week.
The Sharks will begin their ninth consecutive playoff appearance at third-seeded Vancouver.
Pittsburgh’s James Neal scored a hat trick in his first game back from a concussion as the Penguins routed the Carolina Hurricanes 8-3.
Pittsburgh scored three third-period goals in just 5:24 to swiftly end the contest.
The Hurricanes missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Detroit is heading back to the playoffs yet again after a 3-0 win at the Dallas Stars.
Henrik Zetterberg had two goals and an assist as the Red Wings secured seventh spot in the Western Conference. It’s the lowest playoff seed for the Red Wings since the NHL adopted the 1 vs. 8 conference format in 1993.
Detroit closed out the regular season with four consecutive wins by a combined score of 15-3. It will face second-seeded Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs
Dallas dropped its fifth consecutive game.
The New York Rangers moved up from eighth to sixth in the Eastern Conference by beating the New Jersey Devils 4-0, setting up a playoff series against the Washington Capitals.
Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov scored his first career hat trick as the Oilers closed out their season with a 7-2 win over Vancouver.
Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek scored the winner and Steve Mason made 43 saves as the Flyers closed out their season with a 2-1 win over Ottawa.
Columbus’ Jack Johnson scored the go-ahead goal with 4:48 left as the Blue Jackets capped a remarkable turnaround with a 3-1 victory over Nashville.
Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi broke a second-period tie and Niklas Backstrom stopped 29 shots as the Wild beat Colorado 3-1 to secure its first playoff spot in five years.
Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist for the Lightning to win the league scoring title but his team was beaten 5-3 by Florida.