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Colorado Concluding Back-To-Back In St. Louis

by Danielle Bernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Following a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon, the Avalanche jetted to St. Louis for another matinee matchup, this one with Central Division opponent the St. Louis Blues.

This will be the third back-to-back set the Avs have played this season, and the Blues will also be playing the second half of a back-to-back after topping the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime on Saturday evening.

Last Time Out

Calvin Pickard recorded his second career NHL shutout and Gabriel Landeskog scored his second game-winning goal of the season to lift the Avalanche (5-5-0, T-5th Central Division) to a 1-0 win over the Wild. Mikko Rantanen recorded his first NHL point with the secondary assist on Landeskog's goal.

The Blues (6-4-2, 2nd Central Division) hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, and Vladimir Tarasenko's goal with 42.1 seconds left in overtime lifted St. Louis to a 2-1 win. Carter Hutton finished with 21 saves, and the Blues outshot the Blue Jackets 30-21.

Video: Pickard, Landeskog lift Avalanche past Wild, 1-0

Stacking Up: Offense and Defense

The Blues and the Avs rank 28th and 29th in the NHL, respectively, in goals per game. Colorado has been led by Matt Duchene, who recorded his fourth assist on Saturday night and paces the Avs with nine points on the season. Gabriel Landeskog (three goals, three assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, five assists) have each added six points.

St. Louis, which has been led by Tarasenko (five goals, five assists), Alexander Steen (two goals, seven assists) and former Avalanche forward Paul Stastny (four goals, five assists), is averaging 2.17 goals per game.

 

Stacking Up: Special Teams

Colorado has scored seven power-play goals on 35 opportunities with the man advantage this season for a 20 percent success rate that ranks 13th in the league. The Avs were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill Saturday afternoon, and Colorado's PK has now been successful in 25 of its last 27 times shorthanded.

The Blues power play is clicking at a 15.9 percent rate with seven goals in 44 man advantage opportunities. The St. Louis penalty kill is among the best in the league, as the Blues rank fifth at 89.1 percent.

 

Player to Watch

Colorado: Right Wing Mikko Rantanen

Rantanen tallied his first NHL point on Saturday and has added energy to the Colorado lineup since making his return from an ankle injury on Oct. 28. 

"It feels good. It has been coming the last couple of games, we had a ton of chances to get the goals and we couldn't," Rantanen said of recording his first point after Colorado's win on Saturday. "Today, we got the big power-play goal so it always feels good but two points for the team, that's the biggest thing."

Video: Rantanen talks first NHL point

St. Louis: Vladimir Tarasenko

With five goals and five assists in 12 games this season, Tarasenko is the Blues' leader in goals and points. His tally in extra time on Saturday was his fifth career regular-season overtime marker, moving him into a tie with Brett Hull for third on the franchise's all-time regular-season overtime goals list.

 

Series History

The Avalanche is 44-28-10 in the all-time series against the Blues and 18-18-4 on the road.

Jarome Iginla's 74 career points against St. Louis ranks seventh all time, and his 29 goals are fourth in NHL history against the Blues. Of those 29 tallies, 10 have come on the power play. 

Mikhail Grigorenko recorded two goals and two assists in the 2015-16 season series to lead all Avalanche skaters in points. The Avs were 3-2-0 against St. Louis last year, including a 1-1-0 record as the road team.

 

Lineup Notes

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in net. Varlamov and Pickard have split each of Colorado's back-to-back sets so far this season, but this will mark the first time that Varlamov is starting the second game rather than the first.

"We're kind of setting out goalie plan week to week," head coach Jared Bednar said after Saturday's victory. "Because of the history of the situation, Varly is getting a good opportunity early here. We're not setting the schedule month-by-month or season long. We're looking at it week-to-week.

"We want to play a rested goalie in back-to-backs, because we believe in both of them, and then we'll get to a point where we'll need results…and maybe we can ride a hot goalie for a bit and see how it goes."

 Video: Coach Jared Bednar on the Avs' win over the Wild

The Details

The puck drops at 3 p.m. (MT) at the Scottrade Center, and the game can be watched live on Altitude TV and heard on 92.5 FM The Wolf and at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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