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Avalanche-Blues Preview @NHL

In his first season with the St. Louis Blues, Paul Kariya has made a major impact by continuing to do what he's best at.

The veteran forward and one of the game's top assist men looks to continue his strong early play, and the Blues try for a third straight victory when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

Kariya assisted on both Brad Boyes' goals in a 4-1 home victory over Nashville on Wednesday. Kariya, who signed a three-year, $18 million free-agent deal with the Blues (2-1-0) after leading the Predators in scoring the last two years, leads St. Louis with five points - all assists.

"I didn't do too much," Kariya said. "Boysey scored two great goals. He's a scorer, he's got great hands around the net, and he showed it."

Kariya, who turns 33 Tuesday, had at least 50 assists in three of his last four seasons and has 505 for his career that started with Anaheim in 1994.

He's tallied four assists in his last two games, but has a goal in each of his last two versus Colorado - the team he played 51 games and had 25 assists for in 2003-04.

Kariya looks to help the Blues start 3-1-0 for the first time since 1997-98. St. Louis has scored nine goals in consecutive wins since falling 3-2 at Phoenix in its opener on Oct. 4.

Boyes, who had 17 goals for Boston and St. Louis last season, has a team-leading three goals so far.

St. Louis, which has missed the playoffs the last two seasons after 25 straight postseason appearances, was 3-1 against Colorado in 2006-07 and should face Jose Theodore in net Friday.

Theodore, who was a disappointing 13-15-1 with a 3.26 goals-against average last season - his first full one with the Avalanche - is expected to make his first start since undergoing offseason knee surgery.

"He's practiced really well and looked sharp," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville told the team's official Web site. "He's anticipating getting in there and helping us out. We feel it's a good opportunity to start him."

Though he hasn't faced the Blues since 2002 while with Montreal, Theodore is 0-3-0 with a 4.03 GAA in his career St. Louis.

Like the Blues, the Avalanche (2-1-0) are determined to return to the playoffs after failing to do so last season for the first time since 1993-94 when the team was located in Quebec.

Colorado hasn't played since a 6-2 win over San Jose on Sunday. Paul Stastny had a goal and a career-high five points.

Stastny, who had 28 goals and 50 assists and was runner-up to Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for rookie of the year last season, had a hat trick in a 4-3 win over Dallas to open the season. All eight of Stastny's points this season, though, have come at home.

"I thought last year he was at a pretty impressive level, and to just keep getting better is a great sign," Quenneville said. "With the puck, his patience level is at the highest end of the game."

Joe Sakic had a goal and an assist against the Sharks to move past Phil Esposito into eighth place on the NHL career points list with 1,591. He had two goals versus the Blues last season, but none in St. Louis.

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