Despite losing two of their first three games on a lengthy road trip, the Vancouver Canucks remain in contention to come from behind and win the Northwest Division.
Facing the crumbling Colorado Avalanche three more times figures to help their chances.
The Canucks will look to continue their six-game swing with a victory Friday night in Denver, where the woeful Avalanche have been outscored 15-3 in consecutive losses.
Vancouver's impressive second-half surge has finally hit a snag on its current trip.
After going 16-3-1 from the beginning of February through last Thursday, the Canucks are 1-2-0 to start their trip with losses at Phoenix and St. Louis. They're now 1-4-1 in their last six road games.
They squandered a chance to move within a point of first-place Calgary in the Northwest by allowing a pair of third-period power-play goals in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Blues, but are still just three points behind the Flames with a game in hand.
The Canucks (39-25-9) also trail fourth-place Chicago by two points in a possible race for home-ice advantage in the first round.
"We were strong the first five minutes," goaltender and Canucks captain Roberto Luongo said Thursday. "Then it was the Blues the rest of the way."
Vancouver has now been outshot by a combined 69-45 in its last two games, with Luongo showing signs of vulnerability after a prolonged stretch of dominant play. Luongo had a 1.84 goals-against average in the previous 13 starts before the trip, but he was pulled from the 5-1 loss in Phoenix before allowing four goals to the Blues.
He has also struggled in his career against the Avalanche, with a 6-13-3 record and 3.06 GAA. His 4-2 win against Colorado on March 15 ended a seven-game slide in the series.
The Canucks had dropped their first two meetings with the Avs this season in shootouts before Christmas, and they've lost four straight at Pepsi Center.
But they still must be looking forward to their three remaining meetings with their division rivals, with two coming in the regular season's final week.
That's because the Avalanche (31-41-2) have been the NHL's worst team over the last five weeks, with a 3-11-1 record over that span. They've lost five straight overall and are coming off "embarrassing" performances in their last two home games, according to coach Tony Granato.
After Colorado lost 8-1 at home to Edmonton on March 19, Anaheim chased both Avalanche goalies en route to a 7-2 victory in Denver. The Avs were down 6-0 by the midpoint of the second period.
"We've given up 15 goals in the last two games here," Avs right wing Ian Laperriere said. "I hope it's tough for everybody. If guys don't feel ashamed, don't feel embarrassed about this, I don't what they are doing. And in our own building."
It's unclear whether Peter Budaj or Andrew Raycroft will be in net Friday. Both goalies have GAAs of at least 3.00 and save percentages below .900 to rank the league's 10 worst in both categories.