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game recap

Blues defeat Avalanche for fifth straight win

St. Louis shutout streak ends in first period; Brouwer, Tarasenko score in decisive second

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott had to think for a moment. He had just allowed a goal, at Scottrade Center, but was receiving a standing ovation.

The Blues were trying to match the modern NHL record of five consecutive shutouts belonging to the Phoenix Coyotes and goalie Brian Boucher (Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004).

When Elliott allowed a first-period goal in a 3-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, ending the Blues shutout streak at 258:29, the longest in their history, the sellout crowd of 19,263 showed its appreciation.

Elliott said he couldn't recall something like that ever happening.

"No, not in this building. It was awesome. That's our fans," Elliott said. "They recognize we played five hard games that we took a shutout streak in; that doesn't happen often. ... It's trying to get your mind around it. It's almost like the pressure is off now. You let the goal in and you can move on from the streak and start another one. It was a [heck of a] run; the guys played great and they continued tonight. Obviously, in this league, you're going to let in a couple goals. All the credit to our guys and our team game."

Video: COL@STL: Tarasenko collects turnover to pad the lead

The Blues (46-22-9) have won five games in a row and 11 of 13.

David Backes and Troy Brouwer each scored on the power play, Alexander Steen had two assists in his first game since Feb. 20, and Vladimir Tarasenko scored his Blues-leading 36th goal to help St. Louis keep pace with the Dallas Stars in the race for first place in the Central Division. The Blues and Stars, who defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2, each have 101 points.

"It's really important (to keep winning)," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It could be a difference-maker. You look at the eight teams (in the Western Conference) that are going to be there, it's tough sledding for anybody right now."

Elliott made 20 saves, but his shutout streak ended at 193:12. He is 10-0-1 in his past 12 starts and 4-0-0 with a 0.25 goals-against average and .989 save percentage since coming off injured reserve.

Video: COL@STL: Grigorenko's goal ends Blues' shutout streak

When Colorado's Mikhail Grigorenko scored at 18:12 of the first period, it was the first goal allowed by St. Louis with a goalie in net in 280:02 and first at 5-on-5 in 304:39.

"[Elliott] was fantastic as long as he was in the net and had a chance at it," Backes said. "That was a defensive breakdown in front of him. It doesn't matter who you are, it's a tough one to stop backdoor after you're sold on the shot. Just a breakdown in front of him, and that was bound to happen

"Maybe we can stop talking about that streak and start another one."

Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves.

The Avalanche (39-34-4) are five points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Colorado and Minnesota, which defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Tuesday, each has five games remaining.

Video: COL@STL: Brouwer finishes Stastny's nice feed

"We try not [to notice the Minnesota score], but we all look up and see what's going to happen," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "They are playing good hockey, and unfortunately now we're five points back and have to find a way … what we've been doing all year. We never give up, and there's no reason for us not to keep pushing and keep going. It's up to us to try to do some good things."

Brouwer scored the Blues' second power-play goal 9:30 into the second period off a feed from Paul Stastny, who received a long stretch pass from Steen. Stastny's saucer pass set up Brouwer in the slot for a 2-1 Blues lead.

Tarasenko took advantage of defenseman Chris Bigras' error in the Colorado zone to give St. Louis a two-goal lead. Bigras whiffed on an attempted outlet pass, and Tarasenko beat Varlamov with a high wrist shot on the short side at 12:28 of the second.

"It just kind of took a hop when I went to deliver it, and unfortunately that stuff happens," Bigras said. "[Tarasenko] got a bounce back from that."

Video: COL@STL: Backes opens the scoring with a deflection

The Blues had nine of the first 10 shots on goal, and Backes reached 20 goals for the sixth time in his NHL career and the fifth straight season to open the scoring early in the first period.

Backes was in front of Varlamov and was able to tip Steen's shot from the point 1:48 of the first period to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

Steen missed 15 games with an upper-body injury.

"It was a good start," said Steen, who played 19:41. "I thought we played good for the most part."

Video: COL@STL: Elliott stones Comeau late in the 3rd

Colorado settled into the second half of the first period and tied it when Grigorenko converted Tyson Barrie's pass to the left circle to beat Elliott, who made 74 consecutive saves over four-plus games.

St. Louis rookie left wing Robby Fabbri left the game in the third period after landing awkwardly on his left leg following a check from Colorado's Jack Skille.

Hitchcock said after the game that Fabbri is day-to-day. The Blues won't practice Wednesday, so there won't be an update on Fabbri until Thursday.

Fabbri has 18 goals and 19 assists in 71 games.

Video: Great goaltending by Elliott leads Blues to 3-1 win

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