The Blues had one goal in mind entering Thursday's contest against the Blackhawks: Collect two points and force the Stars and themselves to earn home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference on the final game of the regular season.
St. Louis did exactly that, overcoming a one-goal deficit — that felt like more, in a defensive battle — to beat the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime and pick up their 107th point of the season, clinching at least home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Stars (107 points) held up their end as well, cruising past the Avalanche 4-2, meaning both teams may be doing a little scoreboard-watching during their respective games on Saturday.
"For us, the whole focus was home ice and to continue to keep pushing towards first place," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after the game. "Every team has to play (the final game) now; Dallas has to play for points, we've got to keep playing for points and then we'll just see where it goes. But it's nice to know that we're going to have home ice no matter who our opponent is."
And it could be the Blackhawks, who finished 2-0-3 against the Blues this season.
In the regular-season finale on Thursday, Jonathan Toews put the Blackhawks up 1-0 during the back-half of the second period, scoring his 28th goal of the year. It had the feeling that that would turn out to be the game-winner, but, like the Blues have done all season long, they displayed the type of resiliency every team serious about contending for a Stanley Cup needs when Vladimir Tarasenko tied things up with 1:16 remaining with the extra attacker on.
In overtime, Tarasenko scored the game-winner for the second time at the United Center this season, sending a sold-out crowd of 22,075 home thinking about the two points they could have gotten in regulation, which would have kept the hopes alive for potentially hosting a first-round matchup.
That's no longer feasible. It is for St. Louis, though.
"It's an important two points," Tarasenko said. "It's always good to win away, it doesn't matter if it's against Chicago or another team. We won a game against a truly good team is really good for our confidence."
Two more points that haven't come easy for the injury-ridden Blues.
The Blues rank No. 13 with 277 man games lost this season, according to mangameslost.com, which doesn't seem too terrible. But that ranking jumps to No. 4 in quality players lost, the highest among any team currently in the playoffs.
Goaltender Jake Allen and captain David Backes are out with lower-body injuries until at least the start of the playoffs.
Steve Ott, who hasn't played since December due to a hamstring injury, was close to returning to action before being diagnosed with Colitis on Wednesday, and is expected to miss at least two weeks.
Robby Fabbri (ankle injury) and Jay Bouwmeester (upper-body injury) were both game-time decisions heading into Thursday's matchup against the Blackhawks, but only Bouwmeester returned to action. There's a "good chance" Fabbri will play Saturday, according to Hitchock.
Even Elliott suffered a minor scare at practice Wednesday, leaving early after hurting his hand, but, fortunately for the Blues, it wasn't bad enough where he'd miss time as they continue to battle for the No. 1 seed in the West.
"That was a big game for us," Elliott, who made 24 saves in the win, said. "We really wanted that one, and to kind of prove a point — a measuring stick at this time of year.
"You go into every season, that's your goal is to finish at the top and get home ice, and march your way through the playoff to the ultimate prize. Just trying to give ourselves a chance."
The Blues are hosting the President's Trophy winner Capitals in the final game of the regular-season on Saturday while the Stars are hosting the Nashville Predators. Certainly no cakewalk for either team.
While the Blues would love to secure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, they're not losing sight over the bigger goal.
"I think we need to think more about winning a Stanley Cup," Tarasenko said.