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Blues-Avalanche Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: St. Louis Blues (20-41-14) at Colorado Avalanche (41-27-8).

TIME: Saturday, 2 p.m. EDT.

The Colorado Avalanche try to gain ground in the tight Western Conference playoff race as they begin a stretch of three consecutive games against teams below them in the standings.

The Avalanche look to complete a season sweep of the visiting St. Louis Blues before hosting Minnesota and Phoenix to wrap up their five-game homestand.

Colorado is among a handful of teams battling for six remaining playoff spots in the West, and is also trying to catch Calgary in the Northwest Division race.

The Avalanche opened up their homestand with a 4-3 win over Chicago on Monday and killed off all eight of San Jose's power plays on Wednesday, but couldn't generate much offense in a 2-1 loss to the Sharks.

"When you're on the power play you get the momentum rolling for you, even when you don't score," said Avalanche forward Ian Laperriere, whose team has dropped six of its last 10 games. "You drain the guys who are killing penalties."

Andrew Brunette scored for the Avalanche off assists from Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic, who has eight goals and 13 assists during an 11-game point streak. Sakic is one goal shy of tying Hall of Famer Mike Bossy for 17th place on the career list with 573.

Goaltender Peter Budaj fell to 6-4-2 in 12 starts since Colorado traded David Aebischer to Montreal for Jose Theodore, who is still recovering from a broken right heel.

The Avalanche, 6-1-1 in their last eight home games, have not lost in their last six meetings with the Blues. Colorado has recorded four wins and two ties while outscoring St. Louis 20-9 in that span.

St. Louis extended its losing streak to a franchise-record 12 games with a 3-0 defeat to Nashville on Thursday. The Blues, who have the second-fewest wins in the NHL, were outshot 30-18 and gave up all three goals on the power play.

"It's frustrating but we've put ourselves in this mess," Blues forward Keith Tkachuk said. "We know the situation we're in. We're not going to lay over. We've got to keep going. We've got to find a way out of this hole."

Before this season, St. Louis' team record for consecutive losses was seven, set in 1967-68 and matched in 1988-89. The Blues initially broke that record with an 11-game losing streak from Oct. 20-Nov. 12.

STANDINGS: Blues - 54 points, 5th place, 60 PB, Central Division. Avalanche - 90 points, 3rd place, 7 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blues - Scott Young, 17 goals and 46 points; Petr Cajanek, 30 assists; Barret Jackman, 156 PIM. Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 32 goals; Sakic, 52 assists and 82 points; Laperriere, 109 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blues - Power play: 15.1 percent (72 for 477), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (351 for 431), 21st. Avalanche - Power play: 19.4 percent (85 for 438), 6th (tied). Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (347 for 412), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Blues - Reinhard Divis (0-5-1, 4.67 GAA); Jason Bacashihua (3-5-0, 3.74). Avalanche - Budaj (13-10-6, 2 SO, 2.83); Vitaly Kolesnik (3-3-0, 3.24).

SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 25; Avalanche, 3-2. At St. Louis, Sakic assisted on Pierre Turgeon's second-period goal and scored on the power play 57 seconds into overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blues - 9-21-8 on the road; Avalanche - 23-9-6 at home.

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