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Blues gear up for another divisional matchup

by Chris Pinkert / Notes by Dan O'Neill

DENVER - It's a good morning in Denver, where the Blues are waking up and finding themselves in first place in the Central Division thanks to Wednesday's convincing 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Scottrade Center.

Jaden Schwartz scored his third career hat trick Wednesday and ranks third in the League in points (11), trailing only Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Jake Allen made 22 saves - some of them of the jaw-dropping highlight-reel variety - to secure his fourth win of the season to help the Blues move one point ahead of the Blackhawks in the division standings.

"We were able to get to our game. We talked about that right from the start," Blues Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "We knew we were going to have to go out and execute and I thought we did that. Grabbing the lead was big, but for the most part, we didn't back off."

With a busy October schedule, the Blues can't afford to back off tonight either when they meet the Colorado Avalanche (4-3) at 8 p.m. CT at Pepsi Center (FSMW, FSGO, KMOX).

The Blues will be looking to improve to 3-0 against teams from the Central Division.

Video: Chase and Pang preview the game at Colorado

The Avalanche started the season red hot, winning four of their first five games. But they've lost their last two - both on the road (Oct. 14 in Dallas and Oct. 17 at Nashville). Despite the back-to-back losses, Colorado is just two points behind the Blues in the Central Division.

Colorado has started the season with balanced scoring - Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan McKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Barrie have all contributed five or more points in their seven games this season.

Last season, the Blues went 4-0-1 against the Avalanche, outscoring them 16-6 overall (not including shootout goals). The Blues have points in nine straight games against Colorado, going 6-0-3.

At Pepsi Center, the Blues are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games.

STEEN LOOKING GOOD

Alexander Steen made his return to the lineup Wednesday after missing 13 games with a hand injury.

Steen played 18 minutes and 6 seconds against the Blackhawks, registering two shots on goal and a plus-1 rating. He saw 3 minutes and 34 seconds of power-play time while also killing three minutes of penalties.

"I thought it was a really good first game for Steener," Yeo said after the game. "I thought as the game moved on, he got better and better. (His line) really set up that second goal for us - they started with a great shift in the offensive zone and then (Kyle Brodziak's) line came out. That's what allowed Schwartz to get in.

"I thought Steener did a great job. All of a sudden we got a little bit stronger," Yeo added. "The third and fourth lines brought us a lot of energy and momentum - it was probably (Dmitrij) Jaskin's best game of the season tonight. Everyone got shuffled down a spot, but that means they still have to perform. Having Steener back gave everyone a chance to do that."

BLUE NOTES

In the last 31 power-play attempts for the Avalanche, the Blues have killed 30 of them.

Vladimir Tarasenko has nine points of his last nine games against Colorado (four goals, five assists).

Jake Allen is 5-0-1 with a 1.11 goals-against average and a .961 save-percentage over his last six starts against the Avalanche.

With Wednesday's win against Chicago, Yeo secured his 200th career win behind the bench.

Former assistant coach Ray Bennett joined the coaching staff with Colorado in the offseason.

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