ANAHEIM — Five hours before taking to the ice to face the Anaheim Ducks in the final game of the regular season, the Avalanche Sunday afternoon clinched the Central Division championship and was locked into a first-round playoff matchup with the Minnesota Wild.

The NHL is expected to announce playoff schedules later Sunday, but the Colorado-Minnesota series will begin Thursday in Denver.

It all happened because the Detroit Red Wings beat the reeling St. Louis Blues 3-0 in the Scottrade Center, leaving the Blues and Avalanche even at 111 points in the standings. The loss was the sixth in a row for the Blues, and Colorado has the tiebreaker on the basis of more regulation and overtime wins.

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