NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 5th (All times eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (29-41-8) at St. Louis Blues (36-33-10), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Even though they didn't come cheap, the Blues have to be happy with how forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk have fit in since acquiring the duo from the Avalanche over six weeks ago.
Now part of St. Louis' core, Stewart and Shattenkirk will try to help their club avoid getting swept by Colorado tonight for a second straight season in the final meeting between the clubs this year at Scottrade Center.
The Avalanche and Blues shook up their rosters back on Feb. 19 with a trade that sent Stewart and Shattenkirk to St. Louis for defenseman and 2006 first overall pick Erik Johnson and center Jay McClement. The Blues have gone 11-12-1 since the deal, with Stewart posting 14 goals and eight assists in 23 games, while the Avalanche are 4-15-1, and both teams have been eliminated from postseason contention.
The clubs have met once before since the trade, a 4-3 Avalanche win at Scottrade Center on Feb. 22 in a rescheduled meeting from a Feb. 1 contest that was canceled due to blizzard in the St. Louis area. Johnson had a goal to best his former club, while Stewart was credited with two goals versus the Avs.
The victory was Colorado's seventh in a row over St. Louis and third straight in the Gateway City.
Stewart, a 2006 first-round pick by the Avs in 2006, has thrived since getting dealt to the Blues, notching two assists in Sunday's 6-1 win over the Blue Jackets to give the winger five goals and five assists in his last seven games.
Patrik Berglund scored twice in the victory and Jaroslav Halak made 23 saves for the Blues, who are 4-1-1 in their last six games.
"I think we were really intelligent with our puck possession decisions," said St. Louis head coach Davis Payne. "Whether we had to separate ourselves from it or it was a drive or wide net drive opportunity. I thought that we made real solid decisions there and were committed to it from start to finish."
Shattenkirk, taken in the first round by Colorado in 2007, did have a six-game point streak end, but the rookie has a goal and 13 assists since the trade.
Johnson, meanwhile, has three goals and 10 points in 20 games with Colorado, while McClement has picked up just a goal and two assists. Neither player found the scoresheet in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Calgary.
Milan Hejduk had the lone goal and Peter Budaj made 34 saves for the Avalanche, who were coming off Friday's shootout win over the Coyotes but have still won just four of their past 29.
"We have [four] games to go and we still have to go out strong," said Colorado defenseman John-Michael Liles. "Everybody's auditioning for jobs. It's how it is."
While Liles doesn't figure to be out of work next season, he won't play tonight due to a concussion suffered versus the Flames as he did not travel with the club to St. Louis. The blueliner has a career-best 40 assists on the season along with 46 points.
Colorado was without center Paul Stastny due to a stress fracture in his right leg and he isn't expected to play in any of the club's final four games. Stastny is second on the Avalanche with 57 points off 22 goals and 35 assists.
Budaj is 10-5-0 with a 2.50 goals-against average in his career versus the Blues, while Brian Elliott is 2-1-0 with a 2.67 GAA when facing them. It is unknown who will get the start tonight.
Halak has made three starts against the Avalanche, going 1-2-0 with a 4.04 GAA.
04/05 10:58:43 ET