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Avs cruise past Halak, Blues

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER – Few teams have managed to solve Jaroslav Halak this season. The St. Louis Blues goaltender has looked like a magician while making pucks disappear in the crease.

Halak entered Monday night's game at the Pepsi Center with a 1.79 goals-against average and .932 save percentage, but the Colorado Avalanche made him look rather ordinary while skating to a 6-3 win.

With the victory, the Avalanche evened their home record at 4-4-0 and sent the Blues to their fourth consecutive loss. The Blues also squandered a chance to gain a share of the Central Division lead with Detroit.

Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles Liles matched his career highs for goals in game (two) and points (three) in the first period when the Avalanche grabbed a 3-1 lead.

The Blues forced Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj to make a number of big saves in the first 10 minutes of the second period and climbed within 3-2 at 14:56 on a goal by defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who sat out the previous seven games because of a concussion.

But the Avalanche responded with goals from Brandon Yip and David Jones 17 seconds apart to build a 5-2 lead.

Matt Duchene flipped a pass over a sliding Blues defenseman to Yip at the left side of the crease. When Yip attempted to redirect the puck with his stick, the puck hit his chest and bounced into the net at 16:03.

Paul Stastny, who scored in the first period, passed to Jones skating to the net for a shot that sailed under Halak's arm and inside the right post at 16:20.

St. Louis drew within 5-3 at 7:26 of the third period on Brad Boyes' power-play goal, which he scored after the Avalanche turned the puck over at the blue line.

Colorado regained its three-goal advantage at 13:48 on a goal by Kevin Porter.

The Blues opened the scoring 54 seconds into the game on a breakaway goal by Alexander Steen, who also had two assists, but the Avalanche struck for three first-period goals in a 9:52 span.

Liles, who scored his first goal of the season Saturday in Detroit, tied the game at 5:05 with a shot that eluded Halak to the short side.

Liles and Stastny connected 2:02 apart for a 3-1 advantage. Liles fired a shot from the left point through traffic that made its way into the net at 12:55. Stastny scored at 14:57 after Liles blasted the puck off the right post.

Avalanche right wing Chris Stewart collected two first-period assists, giving him 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his past five games against the Blues.

Colorado captain Adam Foote's second period assist was his 254th career point, the most by a defenseman in franchise history.

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