Chicago Blackhawks' Viktor Stalberg (25) works between St. Louis Blues' Patrik Berglund (21) and Alexander Steen (20) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Thursday, March 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Dave Bolland scored the only goal in a four-round shootout and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Thursday night to move closer to clinching a playoff berth.
The Blackhawks needed a victory and for Phoenix to lose to San Jose in regulation later Thursday night to clinch their fourth straight trip to the postseason.
The Blues, who have a league-leading 106 points, could have clinched the Central Division title with a victory.
St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak, starting after the Blues' other goalie, Brian Elliott, had posted three straight shutouts, made 37 saves. Seven of those came in overtime, including a great stop on Patrick Kane with about half a minute left.
Kris Russell's long slap shot through traffic was tipped in by David Perron with 1:32 left in regulation to tie the game, rallying the Blues after Chicago had taken a 3-1 lead early in the final period.
In the shootout, Bolland was the Blackhawks' fourth skater and made a nice fake before beating Halak. Chicago's Corey Crawford stopped all four of the Blues' attempts.
Bryan Bickell had Chicago's first goal in the first, followed very quickly by a score from the Blues' Alexander Steen.
After Andrew Brunette's rebound goal put the Blackhawks in front 2-1 at 4:15 of the third, Patrick Sharp scored at 8:40 for a 3-1 lead. But 55 seconds later, the Blues' Jason Arnott poked the puck in past Crawford to make it a one-goal game.
Halak stopped a shot attempt from the side by Marian Hossa and, after Kane couldn't get control of the puck with a St. Louis player in the net, Brunette knocked it in. Sharp made a steal and then scored on a 2-on-1 after a pass from Viktor Stalberg for a two-goal advantage. But Arnott scored unassisted from close-in on the left side.
Bickell's shot from above the left circle deflected off Halak and into the net for a 1-0 lead. But just 9 seconds later, Steen took a long diagonal pass, skated past Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and fired a rising shot past Crawford to tie it.