The Colorado Avalanche hosts the St. Louis Blues for the first time this season after playing the previous two matchups against the club on the road.
The Avs fell 7-4 to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday at Pepsi Center to begin a two-game homestand. Colorado received two goals from Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri also scored. The two teams battled back and forth for the first two periods, but Winnipeg's four-goal third frame secured the win for the club.
St. Louis is coming off of a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday on the road. Arizona scored two unanswered goals in the third period to claim the win and end the Blues' eight-game winning streak. Tyler Bozak was the only St. Louis player to find the back of the net.
This will be the third of five meetings this season between Colorado and St. Louis this season, with the clubs facing off again on Jan. 18 and April 4 at Pepsi Center. Thursday's game marks the final one in a stretch of four straight against Central Division opponents for the Avalanche.
Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
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).
The Avs franchise has a 61-63-18 all-time record against the Blues, including a 38-23-10 mark as the home team. Since moving to Denver in 1995, the Avs have earned a point in 35 of the 49 home matchups against St. Louis (28-14-7).
The Blues hosted and won both contests against the Avs this year, defeating Colorado 3-1 on Oct. 21 and 5-2 on Dec. 16. Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen both tallied for the Avalanche in the meeting last month, while five different Blues players have scored against Colorado this season.
The Avs mixed up their lines against Winnipeg, with Joonas Donskoi skating on a trio with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado made more changes to its combinations at Wednesday's practice as Mikko Rantanen played with J.T. Compher and Matt Nieto, and Nazem Kadri centered a line with Matt Calvert and Valeri Nichushkin. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky, Tyson Jost and Vladislav Kamenev practiced on the fourth line.
Colin Wilson (lower body) is out indefinitely after having surgery.
SCOUTING THE BLUES
St. Louis currently leads the Central Division and Western Conference with 58 points and a 26-9-6 record. The team's plus-21 goal differential is the second best in the West behind only Colorado (plus-25).
The Blues owns the sixth best penalty kill in the league at 82.7 percent, coupled with a 23.8 percent power-play percentage that ranks tied for sixth overall. St. Louis has won six games in overtime, tied with the New York Islanders for the most in the league.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn is tied for the second most points on St. Louis, registering 34 (17 goals, 17 assists) in 41 games this season. His 0.83 points per game ranks tied for third on the Blues. Schenn has 22 even-strength points this season, which is tied with Ryan O'Reilly for first in St. Louis. Additionally, he has the highest shooting percentage on the squad, scoring on 20.5 percent of his shots.
Schenn is in his third season in St. Louis after spending six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and his first two in the league with the Los Angeles Kings. He was selected by the Kings in the first round (No. 5 overall) of the 2009 draft and has since played 628 NHL games, notching 406 points (171 goals, 235 assists) in that time.
The Avalanche has received goals from at least two different players in each of its last five games.
Of the Avs' 23 wins this season, 20 have come in regulation, tied for the second-most in the league with the Blues. The Boston Bruins have won 22 of 24 in regulation to take the top spot.
Colorado has scored 100 goals in 5-on-5 play this season to lead the league. Of the Avalanche's 144 total goals for, only 44 have come outside of full-strength play.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is one goal and two points away from tying career highs in each category; his next point will be the 80th of his career… Colorado leads the league by averaging 3.60 goals per game… Ryan Graves ranks second in the NHL with a plus-29 rating… The Avs are one of three teams with two players in the top 10 for plus-minus rating (also Ian Cole, plus-21)… The Avalanche has recorded 40 shots on goal in each of its last three games… Colorado will wear its navy third jerseys for the eighth time this season as part of the club's Division Rivalry series.