The Colorado Avalanche closes out its 2016-17 campaign on Sunday in St. Louis, where it'll take on the Blues for the final meeting of a five-game season series.
Colorado is wrapping up its season on the road for only the second time in the last 11 years dating back to 2006-07. The last time the Avs finished a season away from Pepsi Center was the 2013-14 campaign.
The Avs are 1-3-0 against St. Louis this season, picking up a 2-1 shootout victory in their last matchup on March 31 at Pepsi Center. Colorado is 45-31-10 all-time against the Blues, and that March 31 win snapped a five-game losing streak in the series. The Avalanche is 18-19-4 on the road in the overall series.
Last Time Out
Colorado rallied from a two-goal deficit but ultimately fell 4-3 to the Dallas Stars in a shootout on Saturday night. Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Avalanche rattled off three straight tallies to take a 3-2 lead before the Stars evened the score to force the extra session. The Avs were unable to put the puck past Kari Lehtonen in the skills competition, their second shootout loss of the season.
The Blues are coming off a 5-4 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh. St. Louis was buoyed by two-point performances from Scottie Upshall (one goal, one assist), Alex Pietrangelo (two assists) and Vladimir Tarasenko (two assists), who also scored the deciding goal in the shootout.
Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview the season finale
Last Time They Met
The Avalanche earned a 2-1 shootout win over the Blues on March 31. Colorado trailed 1-0 after the opening period, but J.T. Compher potted the equalizer in the second, a power-play marker that ultimately forced an extra frame. A scoreless overtime paved the way for a shootout, just the second of the season for Colorado. Matt Duchene's goal in the skills competition stood as the determining tally, lifting the Avs to victory. Calvin Pickard finished with 31 saves, including five in the overtime period, and Colorado was 1-for-2 on the power play while holding the Blues scoreless on three man-advantage opportunities.
What to Watch
Sunday's tilt is the second half of a back-to-back set for both teams, the 12th such set for the Blues and the 11th two-in-two for the Avs.
Colorado is 4-6-0 in the second game of a back-to-back, while St. Louis is 9-2-0. The Blues' last loss in the second half of a back-to-back set was on Nov. 23 at the Washington Capitals.
Both the Avs and Blues played into a shootout on Saturday, and the last meeting of the season series between the Central-Division foes also went past regulation to determine a winner.
Colorado is 8-4 when playing beyond 60 minutes this season: 7-2 in overtime and 1-2 in shootouts. The Blues are 8-7 in extra time in 2016-17, including a 2-2 record in the skills competition.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Center Matt Duchene
Duchene leads all NHL players in faceoff win percentage at 62.7 percent, and if he holds on, will become the first Avs player to lead the league in that category. He'll also shatter the single-season Avalanche record set by Andrei Nikolishin in 2003-04 (58.1 percent). Duchene has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 29 career games against the Blues, which is tied for eighth in Avalanche history for points against St. Louis.
St. Louis: Left wing Vladimir Sobotka
Sobotka is slated to make his highly-anticipated season debut against the Avs on Sunday, his first NHL contest since the 2013-14 campaign, when he registered 33 points in 61 games and finished with the league's second-best faceoff success rate at 61.9 percent. On Thursday, the Blues announced that Sobotka had returned to the team to fulfill his one-year obligation and signed a three-year contract extension. He spent the last three seasons with Omsk Avangard of the KHL, where he posted 102 points in 138 regular-season games. Sobotka skated on one of the Blues' top lines and on the No. 1 power-play unit in Saturday's morning skate at PNC Arena but didn't play.
Calvin Pickard will get the nod in net, his 48th start of the season and fourth of the campaign against St. Louis. He is 1-2-0 against the Blues in 2016-17 and 1-3-1 in five career games against St. Louis.
Sunday's season finale begins at 4 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude 2. The radio broadcast can be heard on FM 92.5 The Wolf or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.