The Colorado Avalanche returns home from a two-game road trip Thursday night, hosting the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center. The Blues will be the first Central Division opponent to visit the Mile High City this season and the first of three to close out the month of October, as Dallas and Chicago will also make a stop in Denver before the turn of the calendar page.
Colorado has a 45-32-6-4 record in 87 meetings with the Blues since moving to Denver 1995, including a 27-12-4-2 mark at home. The Avs were 1-4-0 against St. Louis in 2016-17.
Last Time Out
Despite getting on the scoreboard first, the Avalanche dropped a 4-1 decision to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. It was the first time this season that Colorado lost when scoring the game's first goal. Nathan MacKinnon potted his first of the campaign, a power-play marker early in the second period, and Mikko Rantanen recorded his team-leading fifth assist. The Avs finished 1-for-6 on the power play, and Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves.
Jaden Schwartz netted a hat trick to propel the Blues to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night at Scottrade Center. The Blues held a 4-0 lead near the midway mark of the third period before Chicago potted two late power-play tallies. St. Louis finished with a 33-24 advantage in shots, and goaltender Jake Allen made 22 saves.
Last Time They Met
The Blues and Avalanche last met in the 2016-17 regular-season finale, with the Blues edging the Avs 3-2 at Scottrade Center. Mikko Rantanen notched his team-high 20th goal of the season in the contest. Colorado held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play, but Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored in the final frame to lift the Blues to a win. The Avs were scoreless on two power-play opportunities and finished 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
What to Watch
After using fairly consistent line combinations through the first handful of games, the Avs will switch things up a bit on Thursday night. Tyson Jost, who returned to the lineup on Tuesday after suffering a bone bruise on Oct. 11 against Boston, will play on Colorado's top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Jost began Tuesday's contest in Nashville by centering the fourth line with Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau.
Matt Duchene is one assist away from 248, which would tie Valeri Kamensky for 10th place in franchise history.
Nail Yakupov is expected to suit up in his 300th career NHL contest.
Former Avalanche forward Paul Stastny of the Blues is one point shy of 600 in his career.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Defenseman Tyson Barrie
Barrie is tied for the team lead with six points, which is also tied for seventh among NHL defensemen. His four assists are knotted with Nathan MacKinnon for second on the team. Barrie also leads the Avs with two game-winning goals, where he sits in a tie with Drew Doughty for the NHL lead among blueliners.
St. Louis: Right Wing Vladimir Tarasenko
Tarasenko is tied for the team lead with five goals and is tied for second in points. He notched two points (one goal, one assist) in the Blues' win over Chicago on Wednesday and has registered at least a point in six of St. Louis' seven contests so far this season. Tarasenko has totaled 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 21 career games against the Avalanche.
Jonathan Bernier will make his third start of the season on Thursday. He has a 5-5-0 career record against St. Louis, including wins in his last two starts against the Blues.
Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who suffered a shoulder injury on Saturday night at Dallas, was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and will return to the lineup.
Puck drop for Thursday night's game between the Avs and the Blues is at 7 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. It's also Grateful Dead Night at Pepsi Center, and fans who purchase a special Grateful Dead Night ticket will be able to attend a pregame concert by Dead cover band Shakedown Street outside Pepsi Center at Coors Meadow.
The game will be televised on Altitude TV and the radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.