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Avs Return Home Sunday Against Blues

by Danielle Bernstein / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche plays the second half of a back-to-back set on Sunday, taking on the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center. It's the first game on home ice since Feb. 25 for Colorado, which returns from a three-game road trip. The Avs will play their next four contests and nine of their 14 remaining games in the month of March in the Mile High City.

The Avalanche and Blues have only met once this season and will face each other four more times before the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Three of those games will take place in March, beginning with tonight's showdown. The Blues enter the contest right in the thick of the playoff race, sitting just one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the Western Conference's second wild card spot.

Colorado is 44-29-10 all-time against St. Louis, and as the home team in the overall series, has gone 26-10-6 with wins in three of the last four. 

 

Last Time Out

The Avs and Blues each faced the Winnipeg Jets in their last outing, getting outscored by a combined 9-1 score. Colorado dropped a 6-1 decision to the Jets on Saturday night. Calvin Pickard started the contest, but was pulled near the midway point of the second stanza after allowing five goals on 20 shots. Jeremy Smith finished with 10 saves in a relief effort.

St. Louis fell to the Jets 3-0 on Friday night at MTS Centre. The Blues trailed 1-0 after the opening period and allowed two empty-net goals in the last 2:16 to account for the final score. Carter Hutton turned in a 37-save performance to earn the second star of the game.

 

Last Time They Met

The Blues won the first contest of the season series 5-1 on Nov. 6. Colorado was outshot 15-6 and trailed 2-0 after the first 20 minutes. Matt Duchene cut the deficit to one early in the second frame, but the Blues scored three unanswered goals to take a decisive win. Colorado was scoreless on six power-play opportunities, while St. Louis was 1-for-4 on the man advantage.

Video: Keefe and Rycroft preview Sunday's game

What to Watch

Avs in Back-to-Backs

Sunday's game is the second half of a back-to-back set for Colorado, its ninth two-in-two of the season. The Avalanche has fared better in the second games of such sets this season, going 4-4-0, including a 2-1 overtime win at the Carolina Hurricanes in the second game of the last back-to-back set. 

Blues on the Road

St. Louis is in the middle of a tough second half of the season in which it plays 25 of its final 41 games on the road, including 21 from Jan. 12 through Mar. 21. At 13-16-1, the Blues' road record ranks 23rd in the league. However, they've improved away from the Scottrade Center as the season has gone on. After winning just five of their first 17 road games, they have eight wins in their last 13 road contests.

Special Teams

St. Louis brings the league's seventh-ranked power play into Sunday night's matchup. The Blues have converted on 21.6 percent of their man-advantage opportunities, led by Vladimir Tarasenko, whose seven power-play goals rank first on the team. 

The Avalanche penalty kill has been stronger on home ice this season, where it's been successful 80.6 percent of the time.

 

Player to Watch

Colorado: Right wing Sven Andrighetto

Andrighetto is slated to make his Avalanche debut on Sunday, his first appearance with Colorado since being acquired in a deal for Andreas Martinsen at the trade deadline. Andrighetto had registered eight points (two goals, six assists) in 27 appearances for the Montreal Canadiens this season and has 11 goals and 28 points in 83 career NHL games. 

St. Louis: Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko

The Blues' leader in goals (28), assists (28) and points (56), Tarasenko notched a helper in the first game of the season series. He tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in the five contests of the 2015-16 series and has seven goals and 15 points in 17 career matchups against the Avalanche. His 90 goals at even strength lead all skaters since the 2014-15 season (regular and postseason).

 

The Details

Sunday's skirmish between the Avs and the Blues begins at 6 p.m. MT and will be broadcast nationally on NBCSN. Fans can hear the radio broadcast on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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