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At the Rink: Avalanche at Blues

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The Colorado Avalanche will have captain Gabriel Landeskog back against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-MW).

Landeskog missed the past two games because of back spasms. He skated at the Nashville Predators' practice facility Saturday morning before the Avalanche defeated the Predators 3-2 and coach Patrick Roy said Landeskog could be ready for the game against the Blues.

Landeskog, who will replace Chris Wagner in the lineup, has 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 26 games this season. He will play on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene.

Colorado is in search of its fourth win in the past five road games. The Avalanche were able to get one Saturday because of a strong penalty kill that went 5-for-5 and they 17 blocked shots in the game, including six from defenseman Erik Johnson, who played 27:44.

"Our (penalty kill) was really good," Roy told the team's website. "Guys blocked shots are were very disciplined in our structure. They really played hard. Our (penalty kill) had, what, six minutes in that second period and they did a really good job. I thought that was the turning point in the game."

Neither the Avalanche (13-16-1) nor Blues (17-9-4) held a morning skate Sunday.

The Blues defeated the NHL-leading Dallas Stars 3-0 on home ice Saturday and want to build off the victory after a 1-3-1 start to December.

"You want to play the best and see where you're at," said Blues goalie Jake Allen, who will start Sunday. "It's more of a test to see how good your team is, how good yourself is individually and where you stand.

"We're not up to their par in the standings, I guess you could say, but we played with them and we proved we can play with them, and we're only going to get better. We definitely haven't been playing our best, so once we play our best, we'll be all right."

Colorado will wrap up a three-game trip Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks and play a stretch of 18 of 25 away from Pepsi Center.

The Blues close out a five-game homestand (2-2-0).

Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves Saturday night and is expected to play Sunday. Allen tied the NHL lead in shutouts with his fourth after a 26-save effort against the Stars.

Here are the projected lineups:


Gabriel Landeskog-Matt Duchene-Nathan MacKinnon

Blake Comeau-Carl Soderberg-Andreas Martinsen

Alex Tanguay-John Mitchell-Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod-Mikhail Grigorenko-Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Brandon Gormley - Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Injured: Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Scratched: Zach Redmond, Chris Wagner


Magnus Paajarvi - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexander Steen - David Backes - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Jori Lehtera - Robby Fabbri

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Petteri Lindbohm - Kevin Shattenkirk

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Brian Elliott

Injured: Jaden Schwartz (ankle), Patrik Berglund (shoulder), Steve Ott (hamstring)

Scratched: Scott Gomez, Robert Bortuzzo

Status report: Martinsen scored the game-winning goal in the third period against Nashville. ... The Blues have typically used healthy scratched players on the second of back-to-back games to insert extra energy into the lineup from fresh players, but after a shutout victory Saturday, coach Ken Hitchcock may not use Gomez and/or Bortuzzo.

Who's hot: Iginla has 73 points (29 goals, 44 assists) in 69 games against St. Louis. Duchene has a point in three straight games and 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) the past 20 games. ... Shattenkirk has a three-game point streak (one goal, three assists) and has 15 points in 14 games. Backes has a goal in three straight games (four points). Steen has a four-game point streak (one goal, four assists).

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