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Blues, Avalanche try to point back in right direction

by Brian Hunter

BLUES (22-18-7) at AVALANCHE (24-18-6)


Last 10:
St. Louis 2-6-2; Colorado 4-5-1

Season series: Second of four meetings this season. John-Michael Liles scored a pair of goals as Colorado doubled up St. Louis 6-3 at the Pepsi Center on Nov. 15.

Big story: With the Western Conference playoff race as tightly packed as it's been, when you've only put up 2-4 wins over your last 10 games you're going to experience a drop in the standings. The Avalanche slipped out of the top eight on Saturday after getting beaten decisively for the second straight game, while the Blues remain three points back of them. Both teams need the two points available Monday badly in order to point things back in the right direction.

Team Scope:

Blues: Presently, three of the five teams in the Central Division would qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. St. Louis and Columbus are the two that would miss out, but the Blues at least had the opportunity to build some distance between themselves and the Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Instead they blew an early 2-0 lead and fell 5-2 on three goals in the third period. It was only the second time Columbus won in a dozen games at the Scottrade Center.

"We came out and established our game," coach Davis Payne said. "Then all of a sudden we decided to re-define ourselves. We were never able to stop the downhill slide."

Avalanche: With two games left before the All-Star break and before a five-game homestand comes to an end, Colorado needs to get it back in gear. After an overtime win against the rival Canucks to start this run of games at the Pepsi Center, the Avalanche have lost their last two by a combined 11-2 score. Paul Stastny started the scoring two minutes in against the Bruins on Saturday afternoon but it was all downhill after that in a 6-2 defeat.

"The first five or six minutes we played great," Stastny said. "After that we got beat twice on 2-on-1 breaks. You can't allow too many 2-on-1s against a team like that and expect to win. Not against a team like Boston."

Who's hot: Patrik Berglund has goals in three straight games and has added 3 assists during a five-game points streak for the Blues. Alexander Steen has 1 goal and 7 assists during a seven-game points streak. … Rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has 1 goal and 3 assists during a three-game points streak for the Avalanche.

Injury report: St. Louis defensemen Barret Jackman (lower body) and Carlo Colaiacovo (face) are day-to-day. Forwards David Perron (concussion), Andy McDonald (concussion) and Dave Scatchard (lower body) are on injured reserve. … Colorado recently lost forward Tomas Fleischmann for the season due to blood clots in his lungs. The season is also over for defenseman Kyle Quincey following shoulder surgery. Forward Ryan O'Reilly is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

Stat pack: With three first-period scraps on Saturday, the Blues tied the Ducks for the NHL lead with 48 fighting majors. … Chris Stewart has assists in each of the last two games for the Avalanche, his first points since returning from a broken hand.

Puck drop: Peter Forsberg, who helped Colorado win the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001 and last played in the NHL during the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs, skated at Pepsi Center prior to Saturday's game and was scheduled to take the ice again Sunday. Foot and ankle injuries forced Forsberg out of the League and he's trying to determine if he's healthy enough to make another comeback.

"It's definitely good to see him be back. He is going to play hockey again," said veteran Milan Hejduk, a former teammate of Forsberg.

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