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Blackhawks vs. Avalanche final score: Colorado edges Chicago on late goal, 3-2

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Chicago rests star players as they look forward to first round matchup against Nashville in Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In the end, it didn't even matter.

The Chicago Blackhawks didn't have to break a sweat to secure third place in the Central Division and a first-round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Nashville Predators.

Before Saturday's game in Denver, the Hawks learned their fate when the St. Louis Blues dispatched the Minnesota Wild's attempt to take the third spot  with a 4-2 win Saturday afternoon.

The Hawks scratched starting goaltender Corey Crawford, captain Jonathan Toews and two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, allowing more rest before the first round beings, likely Wednesday. Scott Darling got the start and Mike Paliotta made his NHL debut.

Jarome Iginla scored the winner with 32.9 second left as the Colorado Avalanche handed the Chicago Blackhawks their fourth straight loss with a 3-2 decision Saturday night at Pepsi Center.

Iginla finished the game with two goals while Cody McLeod also scored for the Avs (29-31-12), who finished their season with three straight wins but still finished in the Central Division cellar.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots in the win.

Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad lit the lamp for the Hawks (48-28-6). Scott Darling posted 21 saves in his first start since April 4. Paliotta's assist on Sharp's goal was his first career point.

The Hawks now begin preparing for the Predators. Chicago went 3-1-0 against the Predators this season, but one win came in overtime and another in a shootout . They haven't faced each other since Dec. 29.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule will be released Sunday.

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