Berglund’s hat trick helps Blues improve playoff chances with 4-1 win over Hawks
CHICAGO — The playoff field for the Western Conference is almost set.
Patrik Berglund and St. Louis are going to Colorado to try for the final spot.
Berglund scored three times to help the Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Friday night, setting up a showdown with the Avalanche for the conference’s last wild card.
“When you have to win your last game, it’s intense,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said. “Obviously there’s lot of pressure. I hope our guys embrace that because it’s going to be a fun game.”
Carter Hutton made 19 saves as St. Louis stopped a three-game slide that included a 4-3 home loss to Chicago on Wednesday night on Duncan Keith’s power-play goal with 8.5 seconds left. Jaden Schwartz also scored in the third after an ugly turnover by the Blackhawks.
St. Louis (44-31-6) moved one point ahead of idle Colorado (42-30-9) heading into their finale Saturday night. The Blues have won three of four against the Avalanche this season.
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Colorado needs a regulation win to make it to the postseason, while St. Louis takes the spot if it goes to overtime.
“Final game, 82 all on the line at Denver,” Hutton said.
Erik Gustafsson scored for Chicago, and Jean-Francois Berube made 31 saves. The last-place Blackhawks (33-38-10) finished with an 18-18-5 record at home.
Veteran forward Patrick Sharp got the start in what was likely his final game at the United Center. The 36-year-old Sharp, who has 10 goals and 11 assists in his 15th NHL season, said he probably will retire after the finale Saturday night in his native Winnipeg.
“It’s never easy, but I’m just ready to take that next step in my life, and I’m looking forward to it,” Sharp said.
The team honored Sharp with a highlight video in the third period, and he waved his stick and tapped his heart to acknowledge the sustained roar from what was left of the announced crowd of 22,218. With his parents, wife and children watching from the stands, he took another spin around the rink after the game was over and waved as the crowd cheered again.
“It was a tough game out there, tough to concentrate with what was going on inside my head,” said Sharp, a key part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams in Chicago. “But thankful that I was able to do that. The Hawks put that video on for me in the third which was really special. The guys staying on the ice and making me do a lap was something I’ll always remember. So, special night.”
Berglund redirected a shot by Joel Edmundson past Berube with 1:43 left in the first period. The Blues carried the 1-0 lead into the third, but Gustafsson whipped a wrist shot by Hutton on the stick side at 8:08.
Just 16 seconds later, Berglund swept in from the side and poked home a rebound for his 16th of the season. After Brayden Schenn set up Schwartz’s one-timer at 12:40, Berglund added an empty-netter to complete his second career hat trick.
“I think we all played a pretty good game today,” Berglund said. “It’s good for everybody’s confidence and now we know what we have to do tomorrow.”
NOTES: The Blackhawks honored Hall of Fame forward Stan Mikita with “One More Shift” before the game. The 77-year-old Mikita, who is the franchise’s career leader in games played, points and assists and is second in goals to Bobby Hull, has a brain disorder called Lewy body dementia, so his three grandsons represented him on the ice for the national anthem. … Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews missed his seventh straight game with an upper-body injury. Anthony Duclair (lower body), John Hayden (upper body) and Tomas Jurco (illness) also were scratched, and Chicago went with seven defensemen. … The Blues scratched G Jake Allen, and G Ville Husso was the backup for Hutton. Allen is expected to start against the Avalanche in the finale.
Blues: Visit Colorado on Saturday night.
Blackhawks: Visit Winnipeg on Saturday night.