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Blues at Avalanche preview

Gunnarsson returns for St. Louis; Grubauer expected to make third straight start for Colorado

by Rick Sadowski / Independent Correspondent

BLUES (30-10-8) at AVALANCHE (26-15-6)

3 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, FS-MW, NHL.TV


The Game

Carl Gunnarsson will return to the lineup for the St. Louis Blues when they play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

The defenseman will be paired with Robert Bortuzzo after missing the past 15 games with an upper-body injury he sustained Dec. 12 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Gunnarsson has four points (one goal, three assists) in 17 games this season.

The Blues are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday and are 4-0-2 in their past six games and 12-2-2 in their past 16.

Goalie Philipp Grubauer is expected to make his third straight start for the Avalanche after he made 27 saves Thursday in a 4-0 win against the San Jose Sharks. Colorado, which was 0-2-2- in its previous four games, is 1-0-2 in the first three games of a five-game homestand. The Avalanche are 4-6-3 in their past 13 games after going 9-1-1 in the previous 11.


Players to watch

Blues forward Alexander Steen has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past six games.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is second among NHL rookies with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 39 games. He needs one goal to break the Avalanche/Quebec Norqdiues record he shares with John-Michael Liles (2003-04) for the most by a rookie defenseman.


They said it

"It's been a while and now I've been sitting around waiting. It will be fun. It's what it is. The team's playing well and we're winning. That's the nature of it. So just sitting and waiting for your time and it's coming." -- Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson

"Obviously, we're coming down to the (NHL All-Star) break here and we want to find some success before the break starts. For us, it's just trying to be consistent." -- Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar


Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Oskar Sundqvist

Zach Sanford -- Ryan O'Reilly -- David Perron

Alexander Steen -- Robert Thomas -- Tyler Bozak

Mackenzie MacEachern -- Jacob de la Rose -- Ivan Barbashev

Vince Dunn -- Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester -- Justin Faulk

Carl Gunnarsson -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Troy Brouwer, Jordan Kyrou, Niko Mikkola

Injured: Sammy Blais (wrist), Colton Parayko (upper body), Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder)


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Valeri Nichushkin -- Nazem Kadri -- Andre Burakovsky

Matt Calvert -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto -- Tyson Jost -- Vladislav Kamenev

Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Philipp Grubauer

Pavel Francouz

Scratched: Mark Barberio

Injured: Joonas Donskoi (concussion protocol), Colin Wilson (lower body)


Status report

Donskoi, a right wing, who was injured Jan. 7 against the New York Rangers, is expected to miss his fourth straight game. He wore a non-contact jersey in an optional practice Friday.


Stat pack

Perron has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past six games. … Thomas has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past four games. … MacKinnon has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his past eight games.

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