NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 16th
(All times eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (39-23-6) at St. Louis Blues (32-27-9), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Strong play on the road this season has kept the St. Louis
Blues in contention for a postseason berth. The club hasn't been able to
achieve the same success at home, however, and it's had all kinds of trouble
when facing the Colorado Avalanche during this 2009-10 campaign.
Colorado will try for a season sweep of the Blues when the Northeast Division
contenders head to the Scottrade Center this evening for a key Western
St. Louis returns home after performing well on an important six-game road
trip to start out the team's post-Olympic break schedule. The Blues finished
4-2-0 on the swing, although they came up short against Minnesota in Sunday's
The Wild scored three unanswered goals in the first period en route to a 4-2
triumph, which left St. Louis at a still-impressive 20-11-4 as the visitor
The Blues are just 12-16-5 as the home team, however, but did win its last
three tests at the Scottrade Center prior to the league's hiatus for the
St. Louis, which plays eight of its final 14 regular-season games on home ice,
will need to improve upon that lackluster record in order to achieve a second
straight playoff appearance. The Blues enter tonight's tilt in 10th place in
the West and seven points behind rival Detroit for the conference's eighth and
final postseason slot.
"We're not gaining ground, everyone around us is winning," said Blues forward
Keith Tkachuk after Sunday's loss. "This really hurts, no question about it.
Some of the teams won [Sunday] too, so it's frustrating. We have to go on a
serious run to get into the playoffs."
St. Louis could also use a better performance out of No. 1 goaltender Chris
Mason than he gave against the Wild. The usually-steady backstop was yanked
after allowing three goals on only seven shots in the opening period.
Mason has also struggled mightily when facing the Avalanche this season, with
the veteran netminder having given up a whopping 13 goals (a 7.23 GAA) in the
Blues' three defeats to Colorado in 2009-10. In the most recent meeting
between the teams, Mason stopped just 11-of-15 chances before exiting early in
the second period of a 7-3 loss in Denver on March 6.
Chris Stewart netted his first career hat trick and added an assist in that
contest, and the Avs forward came up with the go-ahead goal late in the second
period of his team's 5-3 triumph at Dallas on Sunday. The win was the second
in a row for Colorado, which currently occupies the No. 6 spot in the West and
trails first-place Vancouver by five points in the Northwest Division race.
Paul Stastny scored a pair of goals in Sunday's victory and has amassed 12
points (4 goals, 8 assists) over a seven-game point streak. Teammate Peter
Mueller, acquired in a trade-deadline deal with Phoenix on March 3, has also
notched a point in seven straight outings and has racked up two goals and six
assists over his first six games with the Avalanche.
Goaltender Craig Anderson made a big contribution as well to Sunday's win,
matching a career-high with 48 saves on the afternoon. The offseason pickup is
2-0-0 with a 2.50 goals against average in two starts versus St. Louis earlier
this season, but wasn't between the pipes for Colorado's 4-0 blanking of the
Blues at the Scottrade Center on December 7. Backup Peter Budaj got the call
in that one and turned aside all 35 shots he faced.
In injury news for the Avalanche, forwards Cody McLeod and Stephane Yelle each
exited Sunday's win in the first period after sustaining leg injuries and are
questionable to play tonight.
03/16 10:51:02 ET