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Rookies pace Avs to win over Blues

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche kids are still all right.

The Avalanche have used an NHL-high 10 rookies this season and five were in the lineup Monday night in a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.

A bruised foot prevented teenaged center Ryan O’Reilly from dressing, but rookie Brandon Yip scored twice and fellow freshman T.J. Galiardi added a goal as the Avalanche increased their season point total to 72, three more than they earned all last season, to tie the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks, who have played one fewer game.

The Avalanche scored three goals on six shots in the first 6 1-2 minutes of the second period to build a 5-2 advantage and chase Blues goalie Chris Mason, who faced 15 shots overall.

Chris Stewart broke a 2-2 tie at 2:25 of the period when he tipped rookie defenseman Ryan Wilson’s soft shot behind Mason.

Paul Stastny, with his first goal in seven games, beat Mason with a backhander to the short side at 3:57 and Yip collected his second goal of the game at 6:34 with a shot from the left circle that went in off the goalie, who was replaced by Ty Conklin.

The Avalanche also got an assist from first-round draft pick Matt Duchene, increasing the team’s rookie output this season to 121 points on 49 goals and 72 assists.

Held to two goals or fewer in seven of their previous nine games, the Blues equaled that total in the first period when defensemen Eric Brewer and Erik Johnson fired pucks past goalie Craig Anderson.

Anderson, who had 20 saves in a 3-0 shutout against Edmonton on Saturday, allowed the goals on the first three shots he faced.

Brewer put a long wrist shot behind Anderson at 3:34, but the Avalanche tied the game on Galiardi’s goal from the slot 28 seconds later.

Johnson gave the Blues a 2-1 lead with a shot from the right point at 7:59 and the Avalanche tied the game again at 16:42 on a power-play goal by Yip.
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