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Dave Bolland’s deke does the trick in Hawks’ shootout victory

Dave Bolhad been 0-for-7 shootout attempts before scoring against Blues’ Jaroslav Halak.  |  Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

Dave Boland had been 0-for-7 in shootout attempts before scoring against the Blues’ Jaroslav Halak. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 1, 2012 8:28AM

There was more than just two points riding on the stick of Blackhawks center Dave Bolland as he steadily approached the St. Louis Blues goal for his shootout attempt Thursday at the United ­Center.

There were postseason-clinching scenarios for both teams.

But all Bolland considered were his options to solve Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak in the four- or five-second span he has to pick his ­attack.

“You always have things going through your head,” Bolland said. “You’re not really sure what to put in. Should I shoot, should I deke or should I just bury my head and put it through him and try to run right through him?”

Bolland went “deke,” scoring the winner in the fourth round of the shootout for the Hawks in a 4-3 victory over their Western Conference-leading rivals. He was previously 0-for-7 in his career in shootout attempts.

With the victory, the Hawks prevented the Blues from clinching the Central Division title and one of the top two spots in the West. But more important, the Hawks moved one step closer to securing their own playoff berth.

The Hawks would have clinched their fourth consecutive postseason appearance had the San Jose Sharks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes in regulation Thursday, but they lost 2-0.

Bryan Bickell, Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp scored in regulation for the Hawks, who saw the Blues rally from a 3-1 deficit and force overtime in the third period.

Corey Crawford turned every Blues shooter away as he recovered from two tough goals in the third period for his 28th win. Crawford (17 saves) was particularly hard on himself for allowing the goals, but he stood out in the shootout.

“Tonight, after giving those two up in the third, I felt I needed to bear down and give us a better chance,” Crawford said. “Our guys played well. I just got in the zone there in the shootout.”

Should the Hawks meet the Blues in the postseason, they’ve shown they can do better than compete against them with a lineup missing center Jonathan Toews (concussion) and defenseman Duncan Keith (suspension).

The Hawks have won four of their six meetings against the Blues, who have risen to the top of the league with stellar goaltending and a commitment to a physical, defensive approach since coach Ken Hitchcock took over in November.

On Thursday, Halak (37 saves) was a difference-maker for the Blues in regulation, making several stellar stops and preventing the Hawks from taking over a game they controlled in long stretches at even strength. The Blues had three shots on goal in the second period as the Hawks — who still struggled on the power play — outshot them 40-20.

The Blues were able to eke out the point by catching the Hawks off-guard after goals. Alexander Steen scored nine seconds after Bickell, and Arnott scored 55 seconds after Sharp. David Perron tied it at 3 with 92 seconds left when he tipped in a shot from the point.

Perhaps aiding their cause, the Hawks weren’t having any of the playoff-clinching talk before or even after the game. It doesn’t matter if they’re the fourth, fifth or sixth seed.

“We want to take as many points as possible,” said Viktor Stalberg, who was a threat all game. “It seems like we’re getting ourselves ready for playoff hockey. It was a good test for us tonight playing a good team like St. Louis.”

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