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Avalanche trying to stay alive against Blues

Colorado chasing Minnesota for wild card; St. Louis pursuing Dallas in Central

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

BLUES (46-23-9) at AVALANCHE (39-35-4)

TV: 8 p.m. ET; NBCSN

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche continue their pursuit of a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they play the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center on Sunday.

The Avalanche, who have lost two games in a row and four of their past five, are five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with four games remaining, one more than the Wild.

Colorado would be eliminated with a regulation loss if the Wild defeat the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

"We have nothing to lose at this point," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "I think we almost have to think like that. That's not saying we play loose and careless, it's playing confident and on our toes and just go for it at this point. We don't want to have any regrets.

"It's frustrating to be in the position we're in, but we have four games (left) and we'll make the best of it. At the very least we have to play for our fans and the logo, finish hard."

Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov will make his sixth consecutive start.

The Blues, who have a clinched a playoff berth, are in second place in the Central Division, four points behind the Dallas Stars with four games left, one more than the Stars. They are four points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks.

St. Louis is coming off a 6-5 loss to the Boston Bruins on Friday that ended their winning streak at five games.

Jake Allen stopped four of five shots after relieving Brian Elliott to begin the third period Friday and will start Sunday. Allen has gone 7-1-0 in his past nine starts.

The Avalanche and Blues didn't have morning skates Sunday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Alexander Steen - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Jaden Schwartz - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo

Kevin Shattenkirk - Colton Parayko

Petteri Lindbohm - Robert Bortuzzo

Jake Allen

Anders Nilsson

Injured: Jay Bouwmeester (upper body), Robby Fabbri (lower body), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body), Steve Ott (hamstring)

Scratched: Brian Elliott, Magnus Paajarvi


Mikkel Boedker - Matt Duchene - Mikhail Grigorenko

Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Shawn Matthias - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Andrew Agozzino - Jack Skille

Chris Bigras - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Zach Redmond - Francois Beauchemin

Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard

Injured: Eric Gelinas (elbow), Nathan MacKinnon (knee), Brad Stuart (back surgery), Jesse Winchester (head), Nikita Zadorov (concussion)

Scratched: Andrew Bodnarchuk, Andreas Martinsen

Status report: Bouwmeester, Fabbri and Gunnarson have resumed skating and are expected to return this week. Elliott didn't accompany the Blues for the one-game trip. ... Redmond is expected to replace Zadorov, who was injured Friday against the Washington Capitals.

Who's hot: Stastny has one goal and six assists in a four-game streak, Tarasenko has two goals and two assists in a four-game streak and Backes has one goal and three assists in a three-game streak. ... Landeskog has two goals and one assist in the past three games, Comeau has one goal and two assists in three games and Soderberg has three assists in three games.

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