NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 7th (All times Eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (23-18-1) at St. Louis Blues (23-12-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The suddenly-surging Colorado Avalanche will take aim at a fifth straight victory when they visit the St. Louis Blues for tonight's clash at Scottrade Center.
The Avalanche were last in the Northwest Division with a 13-16-1 record less than a month ago, but Joe Sacco's club has worked its way into the Western Conference playoff picture thanks to a 10-2 record over its last 12 outings. Colorado is now third in the Northwest and tied with Los Angeles for the final two postseason berths in the conference.
Colorado earned its fourth consecutive win Friday night in Chicago, as Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the season in the Avs' 4-0 defeat of the first-place Blackhawks.
David Van Der Gulik, Chuck Kobasew, T.J. Galiardi and David Jones all scored for the Avalanche, who have won nine of their last 10 games.
"Tonight was a good night for us in all ends," said Galiardi. "We tried to keep the puck away from our end and get it deep in their own end. We did a pretty good job of that, I think."
The Avs will try to close out a four-game road trip with a perfect record tonight. Colorado is 10-8-1 as the visiting club this year.
Meanwhile, the Blues have won the first two tests on their three-game homestand and are 8-0-1 over their last nine games in the Gateway City. Overall, St. Louis is boasting a 16-3-2 record on home ice this season compared to a 7-9-3 mark on the road.
St. Louis, which is four points ahead of the Avs in the West standings, recorded a 4-1 over Phoenix to begin the residency on Tuesday and then notched Thursday's 4-3 decision over Edmonton. Matt D'Agostini scored the game-winning goal against Edmonton, as St. Louis rallied from a 3-1 third-period deficit to defeat the Oilers at Scottrade Center.
David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist apiece, Chris Stewart lit the lamp and Carlo Colaiacovo contributed three assists for the Blues. Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves in the victory.
Blues' head coach Ken Hitchcock secured his 550th career win and became just the 11th coach in NHL history to reach that milestone. He also joined Chicago's Joel Quenneville and Toronto's Ron Wilson as the only active coaches to reach 550 wins. Hitchcock is 17-5-5 since taking over as the Blues head coach in early November.
"We were really good in the first," Hitchcock said about Thursday's win. "It unraveled in the second big time, then we really played hard in the third period."
The Blues have played the last four games without centerman Alex Steen, who is dealing with concussion symptoms. Steen, who has 13 goals and 11 assists this year, is expected to sit out again tonight.
Colorado is 2-0 against the Blues this year after recording a pair of 3-2 victories -- one in regulation and one in a shootout -- last month in Denver. The Avs have taken nine of 10 overall in this series and St. Louis snapped a three-game home skid against Colorado with a 3-1 victory on April 5 of last season.
01/07 11:07:24 ET