For the fourth time this season, the Colorado Avalanche prepares to face its division rival and the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues on Saturday, in a matinee at Pepsi Center.
The Avs are fresh off a complete performance on Thursday where they shutout the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Philipp Grubauer made all 27 saves to earn his first shutout of the year while eight different players earned a point in a win that snapped a four-game skid.
St. Louis lost its last contest in overtime, 4-3, to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, ending the Blues four-game winning streak. Jordan Binnington stopped 21-of-25 shots and St. Louis scored twice in the final period to tie the game at 3-3 and force the extra frame in the loss.
Saturday's contest is the fourth of five matchups for the divisional rivals this year. They conclude the series in the regular-season finale on April 4 at Pepsi Center.
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 began their NHL careers in St. Louis… Blues center Ryan O'Reilly was the Avs' second-round selection (No. 33 overall) in 2009 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 Avalanche handed the Blues their worst loss of the season in the teams' last meeting, beating them 7-3 on Jan. 2 in Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon turned in a four-point game (one goal, three assists), as did Sam Girard (four assists), and Nazem Kadri scored two goals. The Blues won the first two meetings in the season series, both in St. Louis.
The Avs own a 62-63-18 all-time record against St. Louis, with a 48-38-13 mark since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995.
After practice on Friday, head coach Jared Bednar said he's leaning toward starting Philipp Grubauer in net on Saturday.
Joonas Donskoi (concussion protocol) skated for the fifth day in a row in a non-contact jersey at Friday's practice and Bednar said he does not expect the Finnish forward to play on Saturday.
SCOUTING THE BLUES
The Blues (30-10-8) saw their four-game win streak snapped on Wednesday, losing 4-3 in overtime to the Flyers, but the defending Stanley Cup champs still own the best record in the Western Conference. St. Louis leads the Avs and Dallas Stars by 10 points for first place in the Central Division.
The Blues are averaging 3.23 goals per game, tied for 10th-most in the NHL, and they're only giving up 2.63 on average, the fifth lowest (tied). St. Louis has four players with at least 40 points, with David Perron leading the way with 47 (20 goals, 27 assists).
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Jaden Schwartz
Jaden Schwartz has 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) this season and is on a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists).
Schwartz has 20 career points (nine goals, 11 assists) against the Avalanche in 28 games and notched an assist in each of the first three contests against Colorado this season.
Notching an assist in the 4-0 win on Thursday, Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare earned his 17th point this season (seven goals, 10 assists), setting a personal career-high.
The Avalanche scored two more first-period goals on Thursday, bringing its league-best total to 56 in the opening frame.
This will be the 100th meeting between the Avalanche and Blues since Avs moved to Denver in 1995. Colorado is 48-38-13 in the matchup with a 29-14-7 mark on home ice.
After Saturday, the Avalanche plays the Blues once more this year on April 4, the last game of the season. St. Louis is the only team to make three visits to Pepsi Center this season... The contest is the first of two straight afternoon contests for the Avs, who will host Detroit in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee on Monday… The Avalanche is 2-0-0 in day games this year, outscoring the opposition 11-3 in those outings. Colorado won 6-1 in Las Vegas on Nevada Day (Friday, Oct. 25) and beat the Blackhawks 5-2 in Chicago on the day-after-Thanksgiving (Nov. 29)… The Avs are 1-0-2 so far on their five-game homestand, which is tied for their longest of the season (Feb. 11-19).