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Blues 4, Avalanche 2 @NHL

DENVER (AP) -Martin Rucinsky once helped the Colorado Avalanche land a Hall of Fame goalie.

On Friday night, the former Colorado player simply took advantage of an Avalanche goalie, scoring twice for St. Louis in the Blues' 4-2 win over Colorado.

Rucinsky was famously dealt to the Montreal Canadiens - along with Andrei Kovalenko and Jocelyn Thibault - on Dec. 6, 1995, for Patrick Roy, who guided the team to two Stanley Cup titles in an Avalanche sweater.

When asked about the deal, Rucinsky smiled and looked the other way.

"It's been a long time," Rucinsky said. "Life goes on and things happen for a reason. There's nothing special to me to score on them. It's just another game for me. It was a game we had to win."

The Blues are 4-0-1 in their last five games. They also improved to 4-2-3 since Andy Murray took over as head coach for Mike Kitchen on Dec. 11.

"We're working hard, we're competing," Murray explained.

Manny Legace continued his dominance of Colorado, beating the Avalanche for the eighth straight time. He stopped 30 shots to improve to 10-1 in his career against Colorado.

Even he's at a loss to explain his success against the Avalanche.

"It isn't anything special (with me and the Avs)," Legace said. "It is luck when I come in here. The play always seems to be right in front of me. You have to be sharp when you play them."

Rucinsky's power-play goal midway through the third period was the winner. He scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season.

Keith Tkachuk scored an empty net goal with 30.1 seconds left to put the game away.

After the game Budaj, who had a four-game winning streak halted, still couldn't believe Rucinsky's shot got past him.

"(It) was real lucky," he said. "The guy fanned on the shot and it went in on a rebound. I have to play better. I can't let one goal get to me."

Bill Guerin and Rucinsky scored second-period goals for the Blues. Colorado countered with goals from Joe Sakic and Wojtek Wolski.

Guerin, who also had one of the assists on Rucinsky's goal, has five goals in his last five games and 17 on the season.

Sakic's goal inched him closer to tying Paul Coffey for 10th place on the NHL's career scoring list. Sakic (1,530 points) is a point shy of Coffey.

Wolski, one of the top rookie scorers in the league, has six points in his last three games.

"We'll think about this (loss) for a while," Colorado defenseman Brett Clark said. "We have to rebound and get back on the right track."

The Blues already appear on the right track, earning at least a point in their last seven games. The two teams will meet again Saturday night in St. Louis.

"They're playing very well right now under (Murray)," Clark said. "They're playing a good system and team game."

Rucinsky credits Murray for that.

"Andy coming here has had a lot to do with our turnaround," he said. "He's been successful wherever he's been. He brought a system in that we have bought in on."

Murray downplayed his role in the turnaround.

"I know a lot of the players from other places that I've coached," Murray said. "We are familiar with each other. We have gotten good goaltending from Legace. He's given us good goaltending and we've improved defensively. Good play from your goalie helps improve your defense. Hard work translates into wins."

Notes: Colorado D Karlis Skrastins played in his 470th consecutive game Saturday night, the longest active streak in the NHL and second longest by a defenseman in NHL history. Tim Horton played in 486 straight games for Toronto from 1961-68. ... Marek Svatos returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with a groin injury. ... The Blues haven't allowed a first-period goal in nine straight games since Murray took over.

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