- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 12, 2009

DENVER (AP) - Chris Mason made 28 saves for his sixth shutout of the season, helping the St. Louis Blues take the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 1-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday in the regular-season finale.

The Blues, in the playoffs for the first time in five years, will face Vancouver in the opening round.

St. Louis enters the postseason on quite a roll, going 9-1-1 down the stretch.

Brad Boyes scored the only goal of the game early in the first period.

Colorado pulled goalie Andrew Raycroft with 1:25 remaining, but couldn’t score on Mason, who picked up his 18th career shutout.

The win Sunday allowed St. Louis to leapfrog Anaheim and Columbus for the sixth seed. Although the Blues tied the Blue Jackets in points, the Blues held the tiebreaker edge.

By moving up, the Blues dodged Presidents’ Trophy-winning San Jose in the first round.

St. Louis made up a lot of ground just to climb into the playoffs. The team was at the bottom of the conference in mid-February, then finished an NHL-best 25-9-7 in the second half to earn a spot.

The Avalanche (32-45-5) finished last in the Western Conference for the first time since moving to Denver in 1995.

Colorado was blanked for the third time in four games and 12th time this season.

Mason wasn’t tested all that often until the third period. He stopped 14 shots in the first 40 minutes, and 14 over the last 20.

His biggest saves were when he stuck his left pad out to prevent Cody McLeod from jamming in a rebound early in the third and stopping a Wojtek Wolski blast with just under 5 minutes remaining.

Raycroft started in goal for the Avalanche and finished with 16 saves.

Boyes put the Blues on the board with a goal from the left circle. It was his team-leading 33rd goal of the season.

Mason had a rather easy first period, facing just three shots. The Avalanche went nearly 11 minutes to start the game without a shot on net.

In an injury-ravaged season for the Avalanche, Milan Hejduk managed to stay quite healthy.

No bad bumps, bruises or bouts with sickness have sidelined him this season. He played in all 82 games for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Hejduk finished with 27 goals, the second straight season he’s led the team in that category.

Ian Laperriere was honored by the Avalanche on Sunday, a day after playing in his 1,000th NHL game. The team showed a video of his career on the big screen, then brought his family out on the ice.

The physical forward made his debut on March 3, 1994, while with St. Louis. The Blues presented Laperriere with an official scoring sheet from his inaugural game.

Notes:@ Avalanche prospect Colby Cohen’s overtime goal lifted Boston University to a 4-3 win over Miami (Ohio) in the NCAA championship game Saturday night. Fellow Avalanche draft pick Kevin Shattenkirk had an assist on the goal to give the Terriers their fifth national title. … Mason started the last 38 games, turning in a 24-8-6 mark.

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