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Hot teams meet as Blues host Avs

by Deborah Francisco

AVALANCHE (23-18-1) AT BLUES (23-12-5)

TV: ALTITUDE (HD), FS-Midwest (HD)

LAST 10: Colorado 9-1-0, St. Louis 5-3-2

Season Series: This is the third time the Avalanche and Blues will face off this season, but the first in St. Louis. The Avs won the two games in Denver by the same score -- 3-2 -- though the first came in a shootout.

Big Story: Two of the NHL's hottest teams meet at the Scottrade Center. The Avs have won four in a row, while St. Louis has won its last two and is among the NHL's toughest home teams with 16 wins.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado is streaking into the first weekend of January with just one loss in 10 games and four consecutive wins, including Friday's 4-0 victory in Chicago. However, last season at this time Colorado had a similar record (21-14-5), but hit a road block after the month of January and finished 14th in the Western Conference. Colorado hopes not to see history repeat itself.

With a 4-0 shutout of the Central-Division leading Blackhawks on Friday night, however, Colorado looks to be rectifying last season's mistakes. Colorado's recent success has been in part because of a push for more aggression on offense.

"Our whole thing was to be aggressive," said TJ Galiardi, who earned his first ever Gordie Howe hat trick in the game. "If we can keep doing that, I think we'll have success."

Colorado has been without star forward Matt Duchene since December 29 when the young center was sidelined with a knee injury. David Jones and TJ Galiardi have been playing with Paul Stastny on the top line in Duchene's absence.

"You can't just have one line contribute and having Gali and Jonesy on that line with me gives us more shoot-first players," Stastny said. "It's tough to lose one of your top players and playmakers, especially offensively, but we've got to find a way to get goals and do as well as we can - so that when we get (Duchene) back it's just an added bonus."

Blues: There's a reason the Blues lead the NHL in home victories - they're playing tough hockey in their own building. They're resilient, too -- Thursday's 4-3 win against Edmonton was the result of a three-goal third period that overcame a 3-1 deficit after two periods. That victory was the Blues ninth in 10 home games. Jaroslav Halak earned the win with 29 saves, including one in the second period in which he stopped Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff on a breakaway. Brian Elliott, however, is 14-5-0 on the season with a save percentage of .938.

Who's Hot : D efenseman Kyle Quincey is second on the Avs with 16 assists and he has three points in his last four games … David Backes continues to lead the Blues in total points (28) and assists (26) including four points in as many games.

Injury Report: For Colorado, defenseman Ryan Wilson is day-to-day with a head injury. Duchene will likely miss another month with a knee injury. … For St. Louis, Ian Cole has served two-thirds of a three game suspension, Alex Steen is day-to-day with a concussion while Andy McDonald (concussion), Kent Huskins (ankle), Kris Russell (groin), and Ryan Reaves (hip) are on IR.

Stat Pack - Colorado has scored 55 goals on the road so far this season while the Blues have allowed just 39 goals against at home. … The Avs are 7-0 in shootouts and have won their last 10 tiebreakers.

Puck Drop: The Blues are taking great pride in making Scottrade Center a difficult place for opponents.

"We're a good home team. We're a good team period," defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo said. "When we play the way we're capable to playing, good things happen."

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