|COL||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|STL||1||2||0||(0 - 0)||3|
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues had another opportunity to take matters into their own hands.
Forget about relying on outside help; the Blues took care of business and punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We played more of a complete game," Blues wing Alexander Steen said after a 3-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday at Scottrade Center. "Throughout our full lineup, from goaltender out, I think we've been inconsistent in having everybody on the same page through the course of the year."
And the Blues did it with their power play, which has struggled lately, but Tuesday they were successful twice in the same game for the first time in 32 contests.
Chris Stewart got his 100th career goal, 100th career assist and 200th career point; Jordan Leopold added his first points since joining the Blues and Brian Elliott redeemed himself by stopping 17 shots. The Blues lost 5-3 at Colorado on Sunday, a game in which Elliott was pulled after allowing four goals on 19 shots.
"I think it's always better to control your own destiny," said Stewart, playing with a heavy heart on his mother Susan's birthday, who passed away six years ago. "You never want to get in on someone else's account. I think it feels better when you control your own fate and that's what we did tonight.
"It's always something I'll remember. She was always like, 'Score me a goal.' I had that in my mind tonight. It's a bit of an emotional day. It's been six years now [since her passing]. I'm glad my family got to watch tonight."
The Blues (27-17-2) also got a goal and an assist from Andy McDonald as they reached the postseason for the second straight year and momentarily moved past the San Jose Sharks into fifth place in the Western Conference, pending the Sharks' game Tuesday against the Dallas Stars.
The Blues pulled within one point of the Los Angeles Kings for fourth place after the Kings lost to the Minnesota Wild. The Blues, Kings and Sharks each have two games remaining.
"We grabbed it big-time today," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We played a great hockey game. We could have scored 10 goals today. We missed empty nets, we shot it over the net ... we played a hard, heavy hockey game. The way we defended is the way we need to play to defend. We occupied the offensive zone and killed the clock that way, and that's our game."
The Avalanche (15-24-7), who came in with the worst road record in the NHL, dropped to 3-16-4 away from Pepsi Center. Cody McLeod scored, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 shots and lost to the Blues for the first time in regulation in his career after going 4-0-1 with a 1.56 goals-against average and .956 save percentage in five previous starts.
"We definitely wish we were in a better position than what we are, but it is what it is and we have a job to do and we have to come out and play hard," McLeod said. "We have to play the spoiler role and unfortunately we didn't do that tonight."
Added Avalanche coach Joe Sacco: "They were hungry tonight. They were hungrier, there's no question. They came out and after the first 10 minutes they got the power play goal, they started to feel good about themselves and got some confidence and they were the hungry team tonight. It's a good team and it's a good team at home as well. We knew we were up for a good test tonight and unfortunately we came up a little bit short."
Stewart, a former first-round pick of the Avalanche (No. 18, 2006), deflected Leopold's left-point shot past Varlamov to give the Blues a 1-0 lead 11:19 into the game. Leopold, also a former member of the Avalanche, earned his first point with the Blues in his 13th game after arriving in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres.
"It's really important, especially on the power play," Berglund said. "We've been struggling there and it's really important to have the power play going when you go into the playoffs. I think that was a confidence boost for all of us."
McDonald added his sixth of the season at 5:13 when he skated in from the left side of the ice and tucked a shot under Varlamov's stick paddle for a 3-0 lead.
McLeod scored his fifth goal in five games after getting three in his first 43. Off a delayed penalty, he took Paul Stastny's feed and snapped a shot from the left circle past Elliott with 4:47 left in the second to make it 3-1.
Varlamov did make three stellar stops in the game. He kicked out Alexander Steen's breakaway attempt in the first period, gloved Vladimir Tarasenko's wrister from the slot late in the second, and thwarted McDonald early in the third with a glove save from the slot.
But the Blues won't rest on their laurels the final two games. They still have something to strive for. The remaining games -- Thursday at home against Calgary and Saturday at home against Chicago -- have meaning.
"We've got a couple games here to push for home-ice advantage," Steen said.
|PPG - Chris Stewart (18) Deflected shot - ASST: Jordan Leopold (7), Andy McDonald (13)|
1 - 0 STL
|PPG - Patrik Berglund (16) Deflected shot - ASST: Jay Bouwmeester (14), Jordan Leopold (8)|
2 - 0 STL
|Andy McDonald (6) Backhand shot - ASST: Vladimir Sobotka (11), Chris Stewart (16)|
3 - 0 STL
|Cody McLeod (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Paul Stastny (14), Greg Zanon (6)|
3 - 1 STL
|Jamie McGinn Interference against Alex Pietrangelo|
|Shane O'Brien Roughing against Roman Polak|
|David Backes Roughing against Cody McLeod|
|Cody McLeod Roughing against David Backes|
|Cody McLeod Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|John Mitchell Hi-sticking against Vladimir Sobotka|
|Patrik Berglund Interference against Shane O'Brien|
|Greg Zanon Tripping against Adam Cracknell|
|Roman Polak Tripping against Ryan O'Reilly|
|Andy McDonald Hooking against Tyson Barrie|