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Avs Pick Off Tarasenko And The Blues

Calvin Pickard was strong in overtime and the shootout

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

It seemed like every time Colorado Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard squared up for the next shot in overtime on Friday night, it was coming off the stick of St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

The keeper was up to the challenge, denying three of the 36-goalscorer's shots in the extra frame in the Avs' 2-1 shootout win at Pepsi Center.

"He had a couple chances during the game, and then in overtime it seemed like it was always on his stick," Pickard said of the lethal Russian. "I know he can shoot the puck, one of the best in the league at shooting the puck. I wanted to get to the top of my crease and be patient, and I thought I did that."

Pickard finished with 27 saves, including five in OT, and stopped both chances by St. Louis in the tiebreaking competition to pick up his 14th victory of the year.

"I thought he was excellent--the couple saves in overtime," said head coach Jared Bednar on his goalie. "We didn't give up anything in the second, but when you have a guy like Tarasenko walking in a couple times in overtime with a little bit of space--he has a great shot and he can place it right in the corners. He made a couple saves up high there, a rebound save down by the net in overtime. I thought he looked really good, really poised after that first one."

His best of the night came in the closing seconds of overtime, as he made a sliding stop to thwart Jaden Schwartz after a nice cross pass on an odd-man rush.

"It was nice to make a big save to give your team a chance," Pickard noted of the Blues' last-second effort. "You're going to have to make big saves in 3-on-3, it's wide open. So it was an exciting game for our fans, and there was a lot of energy in the building tonight."

Video: STL@COL: Pickard robs Schwartz as time expires in OT

In the best-of-three shootout, the Avs were up 1-0 and with a chance to tie the skills competition, wouldn't you know who came up--Tarasenko. But like he did minutes earlier and five times overall in the contest, Pickard denied the shot with a pad stop as the right wing deked close and then tried to slide the puck far side, past the netminder's left leg.

Nathan MacKinnon scored on his attempt moments later and the Avs won the contest to end a seven-game losing streak.

"We've had spurts the last few weeks where we're really on, playing our game, and we just can't really find that consistency throughout," Pickard said. "Tonight, I thought, for the most part we were the better team, and we definitely deserved it."

STREAKING MacKINNON

Nathan MacKinnon helped set up the Avalanche's first goal of the game, and he once again dazzled with his slick moves.

MacKinnon danced through three Blues skaters in the offensive zone and got off a shot that rebounded straight to J.T. Compher, who buried the puck into an open area of the net for his third goal of the season.

Video: STL@COL: Compher buries juicy rebound for a PPG

The assist extended MacKinnon's point streak to three games, tied for his second-longest stretch of the year. He had a four-game streak (three goals and two assists) during the Avs' road trip Dec. 6-11.

The forward now has 51 points on the season. He has reached the 50-point mark in three of his four NHL campaigns.

LINEUP NOTES

With Tyson Jost joining Colorado, the team's active roster now sits at 24, which required the Avs to scratch four players against the Blues.

John Mitchell and Joe Colborne were the odd forwards out and were joined by defensemen Cody Goloubef and Patrick Wiercioch watching from beyond the boards.

Having an active roster with more than the typical 23 players is allowed following the NHL Trade Deadline, as long as teams are still in compliance with the salary cap.

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