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Avalanche-Blues Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Colorado Avalanche (38-25-7) at St. Louis Blues (20-37-11).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.

A new era for hockey in St. Louis is about to get under way.

When the Blues take the ice against the reeling Colorado Avalanche, it will be their first game since Dave Checketts and his Sports Capital Partners and Towerbrook Capital Partners announced Friday they were purchasing the team and Savvis Center from current owners Bill and Nancy Laurie.

Checketts, who at 28 was the youngest president of a professional franchise when he ran the Utah Jazz in 1984, later became head of the New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden, which owned the New York Rangers. Checketts' group still needs final approval from the NHL Board of Governors before the sale is complete, but he already is thinking big.

"Next season we will move ahead and begin working toward the ultimate goal of a Stanley Cup championship," Checketts said. "That's what I think is very possible and I want our fans clearly to know that."

The Blues have never won the Stanley Cup since joining the league as part of a six-team expansion at the start of the 1967-68 season, but had the longest active postseason appearance streak in U.S. professional sports at 25 straight seasons.

That run ended Thursday when they were eliminated from postseason contention after their fifth consecutive defeat, 7-2 to Calgary.

"It's one of those nights, the last couple have been," Blues forward Dallas Drake said. "We make a mistake and it ends up in our net. That's just the bottom line. There's no real reason or rhyme for it. They scored on their good opportunities and we haven't even come close."

St. Louis has been outscored 25-7 during its current skid.

Colorado, meanwhile, is looking to make its 11th straight postseason appearance, but is struggling on a five-game road trip.

The Avalanche lost for the third time in four games Wednesday after falling 5-4 in overtime to Anaheim. Colorado squandered a pair of three-goal leads early before Peter Budaj gave up four unanswered goals - capped by Jonathan Hedstrom's penalty shot 1:38 into overtime.

"You can't just sit on a lead and expect to win those games," Colorado forward Ian Laperriere said. "That's what we did, and they came at us pretty hard. We got at least one point, but that's not what we came here for."

The Avalanche are 10-3-3 against the Blues since March 8, 2001.

STANDINGS: Avalanche - 83 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Northwest Division. Blues - 51 points, 5th place, 51 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Marek Svatos 32 goals; Alex Tanguay, 48 assists and 74 points; Laperriere, 103 PIM. Blues - Scott Young, 16 goals and 45 points; Young and Petr Cajanek, 29 assists; Barret Jackman, 156 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Avalanche - Power play: 19.3 percent (80 for 414), 5th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (327 for 378), 8th. Blues - Power play: 15.4 percent (67 for 435), 25th. Penalty killing: 81.9 percent (326 for 398), 18th.

GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - Budaj (10-8-5, 2 SO, 2.74 GAA); Jose Theodore (17-15-5, 0, 3.46). Blues - Patrick Lalime (4-15-6, 0, 3.71); Reinhard Divis (0-4-0, 0, 5.26).

SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: March 7; Avalanche, 2-1 (SO). At St. Louis, Milan Hejduk scored the only shootout goal to give Colorado coach Joel Quenneville his first win in his return to the Savvis Center after the Blues fired him in February 2004.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 17-17-2 on the road; Blues - 11-17-5 at home.

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