- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Avalanche defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Thursday and assured themselves of first or second place in the Central. The Avalanche are four points ahead of the Blackhawks and own the tiebreaker, which is regulation and overtime wins, with both teams having two regular-season games left. The Avalanche have 47 regulation and overtime wins and the Blackhawks have 40.
The Blackhawks still had a shot of moving into second place in the Central leading into Thursday's games. The Blackhawks are on a four-game winning streak and are 46-19-15 with 107 points. They finish their regular season on the road against the Washington Capitals on Friday and Nashville Predators on Saturday.
The Avalanche also surpassed the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central Division on Thursday. The Avalanche improved to 52-21-7 with 111 points. The Blues dropped to 52-21-7 with 111 points with a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. The Avalanche also own the tiebreaker against the Blues, who have 43 regulation and overtime wins.
The Blackhawks would play the Blues in the first round of the playoffs if the standings remain the same. The Blues would have home-ice advantage on the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks went 2-1-2 against the Blues in the regular season this season.