WASHINGTON -- Let's hope Chicago Blackhawks fans haven't already purchased flights to Colorado. Shockingly, Chicago might not open the postseason against the Avalanche after all.
The St. Louis Blues no longer sit atop the Central Division after losing their fourth straight game on Thursday. The 4-2 setback at the Minnesota Wild combined with Colorado's 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks dropped St. Louis into a tie with the Avalanche holding the tiebreak.
Chicago will play the No. 2 seed in the first round.
"That inevitable wasn't really so inevitable after all," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said following the team's morning skate on Friday at the Verizon Center. Chicago, owners of a four-game winning streak, and the Washington Capitals meet at 6 p.m. CT.
"The inevitable thing about the whole thing is we're going to be starting on the road, and who we play, we'll see. Last night I watched the game, both games late and who would've saw that coming? That's quite a turn of events that probably could be decided late Sunday, so we'll see."
St. Louis and Colorado have identical 52-21-7 records for 111 points. The Avalanche own the tiebreaker thanks to more wins in regulation and overtime (47) than the Blues (43). Colorado closes the regular season at the San Jose Sharks on Friday and at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. St. Louis remains on the road to face the Dallas Stars on Friday before returning home for Sunday's season finale against the Detroit Red Wings.
As for scoreboard watching, left wing Bryan Bickell said, "You're always watching, but I'm not too concerned. I'm just concerned about our team game, the way we're going to go."
The Blackhawks went 2-1-2 against the Blues in the regular season this season.
Whether the postseason starts in St. Louis or Colorado, the Blackhawks are simply comfortable on the road, posting a 19-12-8 record this season.
"I think that the consistency of how we compete, game-in, game-out, no matter the opponent, no matter the place," Quenneville said when asked about his squad's road success. "I think we're comfortable no matter where we play, be it home or away, that we do the same things and give ourselves a chance most nights."