DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Avalanche will face off against the Minnesota Wild in the playoffs.
The Avs have won the NHL’s Central Division and they clinched it thanks to the efforts of an old rival — the Detroit Red Wings.
In St. Louis the Red Wings defeated the Blues, who needed the win to have a shot at the division title.
With the Blues’ loss the Avs clinched the Central Division, gaining the No. 2 position in the conference, and will play top wild card team Minnesota in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.
The first two games will take place at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Thursday and Saturday nights.
The full first round schedule lies below:
Avalanche (#2) vs. Wild (#7)
Game 1: Apr. 17 @COL, 7:30 PM
Game 2: Apr. 19 @COL, 7:30 PM
Game 3: Apr. 21 @MIN, 5 PM
Game 4: Apr. 24 @MIN, 7:30 PM
Game 5: Apr. 26 @COL, TBA
Game 6: Apr. 28 @MIN, TBA
Game 7: Apr. 30 @COL, TBA
MORE: Full Playoffs Schedule
Colorado will be looking to win their first playoff series since 2008. The last time they clinched a division title was 2003.
There are a number of reasons the Avs went from being worst in their division last year to first this season. Head Coach Patrick Roy infused the team with a new passion, Semyon Varlamov was a force in goal with 41 wins and the third best save percentage in the NHL, rookie Nathan MacKinnon and much-improved play by defensive players, including Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson and Nick Holden.
“A lot of players don’t have playoff experience,” MacKinnon said. “Some guys have been there a few times. We have a lot of new young guys who are looking forward to it.”