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game recap

Vladimir Sobotka scores, Blues defeat Avalanche

Forward gets goal in first NHL game since 2014 in regular-season finale

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Sobotka scored for the St. Louis Blues in his first NHL game since 2014 in a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Scottrade Center on Sunday.

Sobotka, who played the past three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, tied it 2-2 at 3:20 of the third period. He signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Blues on Thursday.

"I was a little nervous before the first shift," Sobotka said. "... On the way here, I was kind of thinking about things when I played here. Everything came back and it was a really nice feeling."


WATCH: All Avalanche vs. Blues highlights 


Zach Sanford and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored, and Jake Allen made 32 saves for the Blues (46-29-7), who will face the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tarasenko put St. Louis ahead 3-2 at 4:39 of the third and nearly got his 40th to end the season but missed an empty net with under a minute remaining.

Video: COL@STL: Sanford wires a wrist shot past Pickard

"It happened," Tarasenko said. "The season is over now. We all focus on Minnesota."

Mikko Rantanen had a goal and assist, Francois Beauchemin scored and Calvin Pickard made 24 saves for the Avalanche (22-56-4).

Colorado finished the regular season with 12 consecutive road losses (0-11-1) and one win in its final 24 road games (1-21-2).

"We've known that this day was coming for quite some time and we knew it was going to be done," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "So right now my emotions are with this particular hockey game. We did a lot of good things and we went through our lineup twice at the start of the third period and couldn't get out of our zone and they scored two goals. We had a five minute lapse. So we did a lot of good things, but that five minute lapse cost us the hockey game."

Sanford put the Blues ahead 1-0 at 19:37 of the first period.

Beauchemin tied the game 1-1 at 4:03 of the second period, then Rantanen put the Avalanche ahead 2-1 at 15:02.


Goal of the game

Tarasenko's 39th goal came after he skated from the right boards around to the left circle before snapping a shot off the short side post past Pickard.

Video: COL@STL: Tarasenko snipes a wrister past Pickard


Save of the game

Tarasenko blindly backhanded a puck from the slot that beat Pickard but Avalanche forward J.T. Compher was there to take it off the goal line at 1:26 of the second period.


Highlight of the game

Lehtera sent a blind backhand pass to Sobotka, who scored into the open net.

"Jori made really nice pass to me," Sobotka said. "I had open net and just needed to shoot it on net."

Video: COL@STL: Sobotka scores in first game back with Blues


Unsung performance of the game

With Alex Pietrangelo scratched, defenseman Colton Parayko led the Blues with 23:02 of ice time, and had two shots and two hits.

They said it

"Pretty impressive for me. The goal aside, obviously we bounced him around a couple different lines, seemed to adjust to that fine. But for him coming in, I don't want to say that I set the bar low, but understanding that he hasn't been on the ice for 11 days prior and understanding the travel from Europe and what that can do for you, understanding that he hasn't played in North America for a couple years, I thought it was a real strong game for him. You can see his hockey sense, you can see his competitiveness and obviously he's got a skillset to go along with that." -- Blues coach Mike Yeo on forward Vladimir Sobotka


"I'm really happy for him. We were missing [Sobotka] the last couple years. He's a great guy and great player." -- right wing Vladimir Tarasenko on Vladimir Sobotka's return to the Blues


"It's going to be good for all of us to get away and regroup here. That was a really disappointing year all around, it was not fun. We have a good group of guys in here and I think we all enjoyed each other's company and being around each other and I can honestly say we never packed it in or we didn't compete. But everybody competes in this League, it's not just enough to show up and work hard." -- Avalanche center Matt Duchene


Need to know

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon played his 300th NHL game. ... Sobotka's last NHL game was April 27, 2014 in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs. ... Pietrangelo and veteran forwards Scottie Upshall and Kyle Brodziak were scratched by the Blues.


What's next

Avalanche: Season over

Blues: Game 1 of Western Conference First Round at Minnesota Wild on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN 360, TVA Sports) 


Video: Tarasenko's goal gives Blues 3-2 win against Avs

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