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updated: 4/27/2013 11:31 PM

Hawks will open playoffs vs. Minnesota

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  • St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz scores past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Carter Hutton in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, April 27, 2013, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)

      St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz scores past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Carter Hutton in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Saturday, April 27, 2013, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)

  • Chicago Blackhawks' Ben Smith (28) is congratulated by teammates Ryan Stanton (55), Shawn Lalaonde (42), Jimmy Hayes (39) and Jeremy Morin (11) after he scored a goal in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Saturday, April 27, 2013 in St. Louis. The Blues beat the Blackhawks 3-1. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

      Chicago Blackhawks' Ben Smith (28) is congratulated by teammates Ryan Stanton (55), Shawn Lalaonde (42), Jimmy Hayes (39) and Jeremy Morin (11) after he scored a goal in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Saturday, April 27, 2013 in St. Louis. The Blues beat the Blackhawks 3-1. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

  • Chicago Blackhawks goalie Carter Hutton (33) makes a save in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Saturday, April 27, 2013 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

      Chicago Blackhawks goalie Carter Hutton (33) makes a save in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues, Saturday, April 27, 2013 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

 
 

The Blackhawks had little to play for Saturday night at St. Louis, but that wasn't the case for the rest of the teams in the Western Conference.

The Hawks will meet Minnesota in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after the Wild beat Colorado 3-1 in Denver.

The best-of-seven series is expected to start on Wednesday at the United Center.

"They're a dangerous team and we expect a real tough series," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We can't wait to get started."

Detroit clinched the seventh seed, thus avoiding the Hawks, by winning 3-0 at Dallas and will play Anaheim in round one.

Columbus was left out in the cold despite beating Nashville 3-1. The Blue Jackets finished tied with Minnesota in points with 55 but lost the tiebreaker.

The Blues, meanwhile, clinched the fourth seed in the West by beating the Hawks 3-1 and earned home ice in the first round.

"I think home ice, that we got tonight, is going to be something that down the line is really necessary," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It might be the little advantage we're looking for that helps us along the line."

The Blues won 12 of their last 15 games.

The game meant nothing to the Presidents' Trophy winners who played without 12 regulars against the Blues, including their top two lines.

The Hawks left Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp back home in Chicago along with defensemen Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Michal Handzus, Viktor Stalberg and Marcus Kruger were healthy scratches while Corey Crawford backed up Carter Hutton in goal.

Dave Bolland and Ray Emery missed the game with groin injuries and might not be ready for the first game of the Minnesota series.

"We'll see on that," Quenneville told reporters before the game.

The Hawks beat Minnesota twice in three meeting during the regular season and lost in a shootout.

The 3-2 loss in a shootout came Jan. 30 at the Xcel Energy Center, which is also where Ray Emery and the Hawks blanked the Wild 1-0 on April 9 behind a goal by Hossa.

In the only game at the United Center on March 5, the Hawks beat the Wild 5-3 behind 2 goals from Bryan Bickell and 1 each from Hossa, Saad and Kane.

The Wild spent $196 million in the off-season on defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise, and the investment has paid off.

"Let's make it clear: We're not done," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We're not going to sit on cloud nine and say this is a huge accomplishment. This is a step, a big step, a difficult step for us."

Hutton didn't play poorly in his NHL debut, allowing 2 goals by Jaden Schwartz and 1 to Patrik Berglund.

"I was maybe trying to do a little too much at the start," said Hutton, who made 25 saves. "You're pumped up trying to play, but once I realized I was quick enough to keep up and play the game I felt pretty good out there."

• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.

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