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Avalanche Starts Division Road Trip at St. Louis Blues

Central Division foes meet for the second time this season

by Kate Reed / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche travels to face the St. Louis Blues on Monday to begin a two-game road trip against Central Division opponents. The Avs are coming off a three-game homestand last week (2-0-1), which concluded with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday that extended their point streak to nine games (8-0-1). Colorado has not lost in regulation since Nov. 23 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and its only loss during the point streak came in overtime last Monday to the Calgary Flames.

Pavel Francouz shares the fourth highest save percentage in the league at .932, and his 2.26 goals-against average rank seventh overall. Francouz has started the last three games in Philipp Grubauer's absence while recovering from a lower-body injury and has a 2-0-1 mark in that time.

St. Louis is coming off of a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at home. The Blues erased a three-goal deficit in the third period by tallying four straight to earn their second win in a row. Justin Faulk had the game-winner with 2:26 left in regulation.

The matchup against the Avalanche is the second of a four-game homestand for the Blues that concludes on Wednesday versus the Edmonton Oilers. This is the second of a five-game season series between the two teams and the last one that will be played in St. Louis.

Avalanche at St. Louis Blues

Enterprise Center | St. Louis, Mo.

Game Time: 6 p.m. MT
TV: Altitude (blackouts apply), Fox Sports-Midwest (STL), Sportsnet (East, Ontario, Pacific), TVA Sports
Radio: Altitude Sports Radio, FM 92.5/AM 950 (KKSE)
Live Streams: NHL.tv, AltitudeNow.com, ESPN+, Official app (blackouts apply to all)
Online Audio: Listen Live Here
Follow: @Avalanche, Official app, Gamecenter

COLORADO-ST. LOUIS CONNECTIONS

Erik Johnson (No. 1 overall in 2006) and Ian Cole (No. 18 overall in 2007) were both first-round draft picks for the Blues and both began their NHL careers in St. Louis… Blues center Ryan O'Reilly was the Avs' second-round selection (No. 33 overall) at the 2009 NHL Draft and began his career in Colorado… St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz played two seasons at Colorado College (2010-2012) and teammate Tyler Bozak skated at the University of Denver for two years (2007-2009)… Avs assistant coach Ray Bennett spent 10 seasons on the Blues' coaching staff (2007-2017)... Jared Bednar was the head coach of St. Louis' then-American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria for two seasons (2010-2012).

HISTORY

The Avs franchise has a 61-62-18 all-time record against the Blues and is 23-39-8 as the visiting team in the series. Since moving to Denver for the 1995-96 campaign, the Avalanche is 47-37-13 against the Blues.

The two teams met on Oct. 21 in St. Louis, where the Avalanche fell 3-1. Nathan MacKinnon scored the only goal in that contest for the Avs, with assists from Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar. Colorado tied the game 1-1 in the first period before the Blues responded to score two in the second frame, including the game-winner.

ROSTER REPORT

Defenseman Anton Lindholm was recalled from the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles on Sunday… Head coach Jared Bednar has yet to make a decision on his starting goaltender… Philipp Grubauer is expected to be available after being the backup in Colorado's game on Saturday. He suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 7… Pavel Francouz was sick on Sunday and did not practice, but he is on the trip.

INJURY UPDATE

Erik Johnson (lower body) and Cale Makar (upper body) are not on the road trip and will remain in Colorado to continue skating and rehabbing their respective injuries… Colin Wilson is out indefinitely after having surgery to help his recovery from a lower-body injury.

SCOUTING THE BLUES

St. Louis currently sits on top of the Central Division and Western Conference with a 20-8-6 record and 46 points, one point ahead of Colorado (21-8-3). The Blues rank ninth in the league on the power play, scoring on 21.5 percent of their opportunities, and kill 84.6 percent of their penalties to rank fifth. St. Louis is 8-4-1 in its last 13 games, six of which were on the road (3-2-1). The Blues have scored five overtime goals this season, second only to the New York Islanders with six.

Blues netminder Jordan Binnington has 15 wins this season, tied for the fourth-most overall and one off the league leaders. He's made 683 saves in 25 games to rank seventh in the NHL, and he has a .919 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average.

(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: David Perron

David Perron leads the Blues with 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) this season. The left wing has 15 power-play points this year, tied for seventh in the league and his five game-winning goals rank tied for second. He is also tied for the most overtime goals in the NHL after scoring three in extra periods.

Perron is in his 13th season in the NHL after being selected at No. 26 overall by the Blues in the 2007 draft. This is his ninth campaign in St. Louis after also spending time with the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Vegas Golden Knights after being drafted. Perron has 520 career points (210 goals, 310 assists) after 813 NHL games.

NUMBERS GAME

20

Colorado was the first team in the Western Conference to reach 20 wins this season. The Avs, who reached the milestone on Wednesday, are 21-8-3 on the campaign. Division rivals St. Louis and Winnipeg have since joined Colorado in the conference's 20-win club.

31

The Avs have a plus-31 goal differential, the highest in the league.

50

Nathan MacKinnon recorded his 49th and 50th points of the season in the win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday; he was the third player in the NHL to reach the half-century mark. After 32 contests, MacKinnon ranks third in the league with 1.56 goals per game.

NOTEBOOK

Defenseman Ryan Graves has a league-leading plus-23 rating… The Avalanche leads the NHL with 3.66 goals per game… Nathan MacKinnon has taken 153 shots this season, second in the league… The Avs will visit another division rival in the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday to conclude the road trip… Colorado has won four straight road contests.

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