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Big Story: The Blues have turned Scottrade Center into one of the toughest places for visiting teams in the NHL. That could come in handy against the Avs, who've won nine of the last 11 games between the clubs and are coming off an emotional 4-3 home win against Carolina on Friday night on a goal by Ryan O'Reilly with 1.2 seconds left in overtime.
Avalanche: O'Reilly showed the value of persistence and not giving up. He had three great chances to break a 3-3 tie in third period of Friday's game against Carolina, hitting a post and being denied twice by Cam Ward. With time running out in overtime, he could have taken it easy when Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk skated out of his own zone; instead, he stripped the rookie, carried in and rocketed a shot from inside the left circle that beat Ward to the short side -- a shot so perfectly placed he couldn't have walked up and put it there any better.
"It's good to see him get rewarded for all his hard work because he certainly played a heck of a game tonight and he has been playing very well. He seems to save them for the right time, that's for sure. It's a real big two points for our hockey club."
Blues: The amazing story of Brian Elliott continued Thursday night. Elliott, who has gone from training camp hopeful to All-Star, came on in relief after New Jersey beat Jaroslav Halak three times on 12 shots. All he did was stop the 15 shots he faced through the end of regulation and hold the Devils scoreless in New Jersey to enable the Blues to escape with a 4-3 win.
"You have to be prepared all the time," Elliott said of his role as a long reliever. "We kind of struggled to start the game and didn't give Jaro much help. The change was as much to shake things up and get us going a little bit."
Among goalies with at least 25 games, Elliott leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.60) and save percentage (.940). He'll get the chance to boost those figures when he gets the start on Saturday.
Who's Hot : O'Reilly, the Avs' top scorer (15-25-40), has points in three straight games. Paul Stastny has back-to-back multi-point games. … Elliott is 3-0-2 in his last five decisions, allowing only six goals.
Injury Report: The Avs are still without center Matt Duchene, who's still not close to returning from a knee injury. … St. Louis is still without centers Andy McDonald and Alex Steen (concussions) and Jason Arnott (shoulder), and forward Matt D'Agostini is sidelined with concussion symptoms. Defenseman Kent Huskins is close to returning from an ankle injury that has kept him out since late October.
Stat Pack: Colorado's Milan Hejduk will tie former Avs defenseman Adam Foote for second-most played in franchise history with 967 -- though he's well behind the leader, Joe Sakic, with 1,378. … The Blues are No. 1 in the NHL with a 1.94 goals-against average and are tops in the League in fewest shots allowed at 26.4. … The Avs have won nine of the last 11 meetings between the teams since the start of the 2009-10 season. … Colorado is 11-2-0 against the East -- almost as good as the Blues, who are 11-0-2.
Puck Drop: The good news for the Blues is that they should get McDonald back this weekend, most likely for Sunday night's home game against San Jose. He skated on a line with Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart during practice on Friday; he had been skating on a fifth line at earlier practices as he works to return from a concussion that has sidelined him since Oct. 13.
"I feel really good, "McDonald told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've been clear on the ice for a while now and I'm really close."
Receiving clearance to play, McDonald said, is "obviously a decision that will include the doctors and training staff and coaches. ... But I feel really close. That's about all I can say."
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