DENVER (AP) - Joe Sakic had a historic goal, a flukey assist and a spectacular save in Colorado's 4-2 victory over St. Louis on Saturday that extended the Blues' winless streak to 13 games.
Sakic moved into a 17th-place tie on the career goals list and got the assist on Milan Hejduk's empty-netter off a clearing pass in the closing seconds, two plays that helped the Avs avoid a third loss in four games, which would have jeopardized their playoff aspirations.
"Those are the tough teams to play," Avs forward Dan Hinote said. "The non-playoff teams are very dangerous. We know not to take teams like this for granted. They still have an effect on you."
Before beating back the Blues, the Avalanche's slump had left Colorado just three points ahead of ninth-place Vancouver in the Western Conference.
Trailing 1-0 after one period, Colorado began its recovery with a second-period goal from Sakic, his 31st of the season and 573rd of his career, tying Mike Bossy for 17th place.
"Joe really loosened us up," said Hinote, who added a third-period goal. "We were a bit tight. Joe has been carrying us on his back for the last two or three months. He's been phenomenal. We needed a goal, he went down and did what he always does and popped it in for us."
The Avs put the puck in the net twice early in the third period, rejuvenating a Pepsi Center crowd that had sat in silence as the scrappy Blues (0-10-3 since March 23) controlled the ice early on.
Ian Laperriere deflected Kurt Sauer's shot from the slot past goalie Jason Bacashihua to break a 1-1 tie at 17:48 of the third period, and Dan Hinote made it 3-1 four minutes later when he took Cody McCormick's pass from the left circle and tapped it in from the crease.
"Every team at this point is dangerous," Laperriere said. "They want to earn jobs for next year. They played us hard for almost two periods. That's why they led for so long."
At this time of year, there are simply no gimmes.
"They have the young kids and they have a lot to prove and they are trying to earn spots for next year," Sakic said. "They are loose and they are dangerous."
And he'd like to think the Avs are now, too. But he knows that's not going to happen until they clinch an entry to the postseason party.
"We have to worry about a playoff spot," Sakic said. "We've had a pretty good year, got a lot of wins. The way the game is being played now, especially with the shootouts, a lot of the teams out west are good teams. It makes for an exciting race."
Keith Tkachuk's goal for St. Louis at 18:53 made for an interesting finish. Hejduk scored an empty-netter with 31 seconds left, sending St. Louis dejectedly off the ice yet again.
"The easiest thing to do is get down, we just have to keep supporting one another," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said.
The Blues took a 1-0 lead on Kevin Dallman's power play goal at 16:52 of the first period. Sakic tied it when he skated into the slot and fired a wrist shot past Bacashihua's glove at 16:30 of the second period, extending his points-scoring streak to 12 games.
Peter Budaj (14-10-6) got the win in his 13th straight start, earning himself one more before goaltender-in-waiting Jose Theodore makes his Colorado debut Tuesday night against Phoenix.
"Peter will start tomorrow. Jose will dress as the backup," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. "We will take it day-by-day, but I would anticipate Jose starting on Tuesday. I thought Peter had a strong game the other night against San Jose, and he was strong tonight, too."
Colorado acquired Theodore from Montreal last month but he hasn't played since Jan. 31, when he was pulled from a game against Carolina. After losing his starting job to Cristobal Huet, Theodore broke his right heel Feb. 16 when he slipped on icy steps outside his home in Montreal and was shipped to Colorado for David Aebischer on March 8.
"We're excited to get him in the pipes," Sakic said.
Notes: Avs LW Alex Tanguay (knee) took part in non-contact drills Friday and might be able to play next week. He's been out since March 19. ... Sakic has nine goals and 14 assists in his 12-game point-scoring streak, which is two games shy of his career high.