The St. Louis Blues had reason to celebrate on Friday night despite blowing a 3-1 lead and losing with just 17.7 seconds left in overtime in the front end of a back-to-back with the West Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights.
Thanks to Colorado's 3-2 regulation victory at Los Angeles that endeda couple of minutes before Jonathan Marchessault put in the winning goal for the Golden Knights, the Blues picked up the point they needed to clinch fourth place and the final playoff spot in the West.
It's the 44th playoff berth in franchise history for the 2019 Stanley Cup champions, who will try to earn a split with the Golden Knights on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
"Good, obviously," said St. Louis coach Craig Berube when asked how he felt after the loss. "That's the goal (to get into the playoffs). Now we give ourselves a chance in the playoffs, right? ... Found a way to get a point, and that's all we needed."
St. Louis (24-19-9, 57 points) is 16 points behind third-place Minnesota (34-14-5, 73) with just four games remaining so is locked into the fourth seed. More than likely, that means a first-round matchup with Vegas (38-13-2, 78 points), which holds a four-point lead over Colorado (35-13-4, 74). The Golden Knights have three games remaining, including a Monday night home game with the Avalanche, while Colorado still has four games left.
"We're confident no matter who we face," said Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly. "We're in the dance, and that's all that matters. It's something the guys have worked hard for. It hasn't been easy, but it's exciting. We've got to keep going."
Although there has been speculation that St. Louis might rest players before the playoffs, forward Tyler Bozak said it is important that the Blues, who have an eight-game points streak (5-0-3), continue to build momentum.
"I'm happy for the team and our guys, but this is when the fun starts and the hard work starts," Bozak said. "We've still got to keep building. I know we've clinched, but these last games we have are important to keep our good habits and to keep building our game so we can go into the playoffs on a strong note."
Vegas, which improved to 20-4-2 at T-Mobile Arena with its sixth straight home win, has made finishing first and owning home ice a top priority heading into the stretch.
"Everybody knows how tight the race is at the top there," Marchessault said. "Obviously we want to finish first in our division. That's our only goal right now. It's that time of the year where we try and get good habits and the most points possible."
"We're just trying to win," added Vegas coach Peter DeBoer. "You guys know the situation with the standings. We're just trying to win games."
Vegas improved to 9-0 in overtime games with Friday night's victory.
"This was a tough one," DeBoer said. "We're coming back from a four-game road trip. The first game back after a road trip is always a little bit of a trap game. I thought we fought through that. It wasn't the prettiest game, but we found a way.
"It was an important two points. It was a gutsy win."
--Field Level Media