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Brodeur gets shutout No. 125; Blues top Avalanche

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- If this was Martin Brodeur's last game with the St. Louis Blues, or any NHL team for that matter, the likely Hall of Fame member made sure to add to his illustrious list of records.

But judging by Brodeur's 16-save shutout, the 125th of his NHL career, the Blues' 3-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at Scottrade Center on Monday wasn't his final time between the pipes.

"I think I'm going to Nashville, I'm not sure," Brodeur said, referring to the Blues' game on Tuesday. "I'm enjoying every moment of it. Whenever the decision will be made, hopefully I'll be the first to know and I'll be happy or disappointed one way or the other. It's been a great ride. If that's my last game, it's not a bad one to leave on."

Brodeur moved one step closer to 700 victories with No. 691, his first shutout since Dec. 14, 2013, when he was with the New Jersey Devils. He added to his NHL record for shutouts with his first with the Blues. His prior start against the Avalanche, on March 15, 2012, also was a shutout; he has stopped 54 consecutive shots against the Avalanche.

With Brian Elliott's return from a lower-body injury imminent, St. Louis would have three goalies with him, Brodeur and Jake Allen, perhaps forcing a roster move.

Brodeur (42 years, 237 days) became the oldest goalie with a shutout since Dominik Hasek (43 years, 61 days) on March 30, 2008, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I appreciate them all," Brodeur said. "This one is in the new organization. This is the first one with the Blues. It definitely means a lot to me.

"The way we played today, you play so well, you deserve to be rewarded defensively. It's our job as goaltenders not to give up anything. It wasn't the hardest game to play, but you've still got to make the saves out there."

The Blues (22-11-3) got a goal each from Dmitrij Jaskin, Chris Butler and Vladimir Tarasenko. Former Avalanche center Paul Stastny had two assists, his first points against his former team since signing with the Blues as a free agent this summer.

"We're getting engaged," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Starting to look and act like a team. Starting to behave properly, good things, started showing signs the last game. We've had real pockets of it.

"If you go back on the road trip, two great pockets in [Los Angeles]. Great pocket in San Jose. You really [have to] throw out the Colorado game (on Dec. 23). I think every coach probably throws out four games a year, that's one of them. Come back and play really well, but still got big errors in the Dallas game (Saturday) and then really solid today. We're building and moving in the right direction and starting to look and act like a cohesive unit, hopefully."

The Avalanche, who shut out the Blues 5-0 at home on Dec. 23, got 22 saves from Semyon Varlamov. Colorado (13-15-8) has been shut out six times this season.

"It's frustrating," right wing Jarome Iginla said. "We know we battled hard, now we've put ourselves back in a hole again.

"We've got to find that consistent part. We thought we were getting there as far as puck control and moving it, that confidence and creativity and finding that balance. Unfortunately, this game was, I think a step back, and it's a tough time because it puts us two back and under 500."

Jaskin gave the Blues a 1-0 lead when Stastny picked off Varlamov's clearing attempt along the boards. He fed Jaskin in the slot, and the left wing flipped a shot past former Blues defenseman Erik Johnson and through Varlamov's pads 28 seconds into the second period.

Butler, from the suburb of Kirkwood, Mo., scored his first goal with the Blues when he took T.J. Oshie's drop pass along the left boards, skated to the front of the net and lifted a backhand over Varlamov's right shoulder at the near post 4:30 into the second for a 2-0 lead.

Tarasenko's team-leading 22nd goal (a career high) came after the Avalanche couldn't clear a puck in the slot, and his wrist shot beat Varlamov with 4:35 remaining in the game.

Brodeur made his best saves after a Barret Jackman giveaway in the first period. He stopped Marc-Andre Cliche's long-range shot and the rebound on Nick Holden coming in off the left side 6:17 into the game.

Those were the types of saves the Blues had been missing in the recent stretch of games. They seemed to fuel them moving forward.

"Those are the saves you need to make, especially when you play a team that plays well defensively," Brodeur said. "Sometimes that one save makes a big difference. Definitely I gave up a big rebound. I was able to come across and make a save. I think from there it settled the game down a little better for us."

Hitchcock agreed.

"Three real good ones early," he said. "We gave them a couple from the red tees there early and he made the big saves. I think everybody got excited. A little bit of debris from the last game.

"The disappointment was there in the first period, and once we got that first goal, the whole disposition of the team, we got back on our toes, stayed on our toes and played that way the whole rest of the night. I think Colorado got our worst, and then they got our best. They got our worst just before Christmas, and then they got our best today."

The sellout crowd of 19,749 began their chants of "Marty! Marty! Marty!" with about 7:30 remaining in the game and didn't stop until well after it was over.

"They kind of chanted a little early for me," Brodeur said. "When you're working on the shutout, you're kind of like, 'Ah, not trying to think about things like that.' But it's nice to be appreciated by the people you play in front of most of the nights. These are all fun things for me to be a part of."

Butler said, "He was awesome tonight. I think he's gotten more comfortable here. He's been a tremendous teammate. For a guy with his credentials and his resume coming in here, he jelled right away and he fit in with the guys. Tonight was an awesome performance by him."

Brodeur, who had long rivalries with Avalanche coach Patrick Roy, wondered if he'd get a chance at an empty-net goal. Colorado did not pull its goalie.

"I thought about it," Brodeur said. "It was like three minutes left and maybe [Roy] was going to do it. Usually he loves to do it, but maybe he was a little afraid."

With another victory, Brodeur pockets $20,000 as part of the incentives for each win he gets for the Blues. Do shutouts earn more?

"I forgot about that one," Brodeur said.

Blues forward Chris Porter sustained a lower-body injury 6:30 into the second period. He went to finish a check on Colorado's Nick Holden, the two got tangled up, and Porter went down awkwardly on his left leg. He needed to be helped off the ice.

Hitchcock said Porter will be lost a minimum of six weeks and will be re-evaluated then.

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