Blues beat Wild, set up Blackhawks-Predators series

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The St. Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 in a game where a lot of key players had the afternoon off, but that doesn’t mean it meant absolutely nothing. For one thing,¬†this outcome clinches a first-round series between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

(Nashville gets home-ice advantage as the second seed in the Central while a Calgary Flames loss clinches that same edge for the Vancouver Canucks in the Pacific’s No.2 vs. No. 3 series.)

St. Louis also kept its hopes of being the West’s top seed alive. The Blues moved to 109 standings points, two ahead of the Anaheim Ducks, who must win in regulation to take back the No. 1 spot.

Blues boast the better B-team

Despite some incentive for both teams – the Blues seek that top seed, the Wild may have had a chance to move out of the wild card – plenty of players got a breather on Saturday. Really, it makes sense to do so, as this day off could mean a week out of game action. Maybe that opens the door for rust to form, yet considering how bruising 82 games can be, it seems reasonable enough.

The Blues got off to such a slow start that their home fans gave them a Bronx cheer for an early shot on goal, yet they soldiered on and eventually won by a comfortable margin.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 37th goal of a brilliant breakout season to remind us that some big stars were still playing:

Brian Elliott won his 26th game of the season. This could be a helpful couple of wins for the 2015 All-Star, even if he backs up Jake Allen in the playoffs.

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So far, we know that the Blackhawks will face the Predators and the Vancouver Canucks will take on the Calgary Flames out West. The Blues and Wild won’t know their first-round opponents until this evening’s busy proceedings come to an end.

For all we know, Saturday could have been a first-round preview … albeit one without some top attractions.