Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (kneeling) and his teammates celebrate Gabriel Landeskog's empty net goal that gave the Avs a 4-1 lead over the St. Louis Blues in the third period Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
Last year, the Colorado Avalanche was the worst team in the NHL.
This year, they are going to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Avs defeated the St. Louis Blues, 5-2, Saturday night to beat out the Blues for the second wild card in the Western Conference.
"I'm real proud of this team. I was realy proud of them before tonight. And then to see them step up the way they did and finish the job of phase one of our season, I don't even know what to say," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said.
Due to the potential tiebreaker being in the Blues' favor, the Avs needed to beat the Blues in regulation in order to overtake St. Louis and make the playoffs. Colorado finishes the year with 95 points while St. Louis had 94.
The Avs return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season and completed a turnaround from being the worst team in the NHL last year.
"I'm really proud of the guys who went through what we went through last year because that was a tough year," Bednar said.
19-year-old Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard got the scoring started with a blast past Blues goalie Jake Allen at 19:14 of the first period.
Fellow defenseman Tyson Barrie blistered one past Allen from the blue line at 6:11 of the second.
After trading goals, the Avalanche clinched it on Gabriel Landeskog's empty net goal at 16:37 of the third. That made it 4-1 and, in effect, clinched the game and the playoff spot for the Avalanche.
"This is a big accomplishment, obviously, to make it after last year but we're not done," Avs captain Landeskog said.
Landeskog finished with a goal and two assists and had six shots on goal. Forward Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and also had six shots on goal. Matt Nieto also put home a goal as five different Avalanche players lit the lamp.
The Avalanche will face the top-seeded Nashville Predators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Preds had an NHL-best 117 points.
KOA NewsRadio's Mike Rice caught up with Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon after the game.
Postgame comments from Avs forward Gabriel Landeskog.
Postgame comments from Avs defenseman Tyson Barrie.
Postgame comments from Avs head coach Jared Bednar.