DENVER — It might have been the first time Avalanche fans cheered for the Red Wings. Colorado didn’t have to win Sunday to clinch the Central Division as long as their old rival beat the Blues. And it wasn’t even close. Detroit shut out St. Louis 3-0, handing St. Louis its sixth straight loss.
With the win, the Avs (52-22-7) are now locked into a first-round playoff matchup with the Minnesota Wild. Playoff schedules will be released Sunday evening. With the Nuggets home on Wednesday, it’s likely Colorado will face Minnesota in game 1 on Thursday at the Pepsi Center.
Colorado and St. Louis are even at 111 points, but the Avalanche have the tiebreaker based on more regulation and overtime wins.
This is Colorado’s first division title since 2003. That was head coach Patrick Roy’s final season as a player. Ironically, his final NHL game was against the Wild. Minnesota rallied to tie and won Game 7 in overtime when Andrew Brunette scored on Roy in Colorado. Brunette is now an assistant with the Wild.
Back on March 25, the Avalanche were 9 points back of first and 3rd in the division. They were 3 points behind the Blackhawks for 2nd. That was all erased after Colorado won 8 out its last 10 games and poor play by Chicago and St. Louis.
Here’s your Western Conference first round playoff matchups: Colorado vs. Minnesota, Anaheim Vs. Dallas, St. Louis Vs. Chicago and San Jose Vs. Los Angeles.
Colorado will play its final regular season game Sunday night in Anaheim. Roy said after Friday’s loss in San Jose that Semyon Varlamov will get the start at goalie, but with the news he has changed his mind. Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start.
Minnesota will play at Colorado on April 17 and April 19, then the Avs head to Minnesota on April 21 and 24. Games will follow on April 26, 28 and 30 if necessary.
This is the franchise’s 11th division title and ninth since moving to Colorado.