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Blues look to match League record vs. Avalanche

St. Louis has four straight shutouts, one shy of Phoenix's modern-day mark

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

AVALANCHE (39-33-4) at BLUES (45-22-9)

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues not only are looking to keep pace with the Dallas Stars in the race for first place in the Central Division, they have the chance to match a modern NHL record Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

St. Louis, which has a Blues-record four consecutive shutouts, can match the NHL record held by the Phoenix Coyotes (Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 9, 2004) with a shutout victory (or 1-0 shootout loss) against the Avalanche.

The Blues and Stars each have 99 points and play Tuesday; Dallas hosts the Nashville Predators (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-SW, NHL.TV). The Stars have the tiebreaker on the Blues based on having 43 regulation/overtime wins (ROW) to the Blues' 40.

The Avalanche, who have 82 points, trail the Minnesota Wild by three points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with six games remaining for each team; Minnesota hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS-N, NHL.TV).

Goalie Brian Elliott, who had the first three shutouts for the Blues before Jake Allen shut out the Washington Capitals on Saturday, will start against the Avalanche. He has a personal 180:00 shutout streak of his own going.

The Blues have a franchise-record 240:18 shutout streak, and they haven't allowed a goal with a goalie in net in the past 261:51. They haven't allowed a 5-on-5 goal in 286:28.

How have they been doing it?

"Other than getting good goaltending, I think it's timely everything," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Timely saves, timely scoring, timely good penalty killing. I think winning in the League is based on the time and the score and everything. We've been able to get away with it at times. You look at the game in Washington, we made them pay for their mistakes and we didn't pay for our mistakes but both teams made quite a few of them. Scoring chances between the two teams were in the mid-30's and we ended up getting a shutout. They had almost 20 scoring chances. I think the timing of everything is giving you the edge. I think every player in that room knows that we can play better. We're really happy with what's happened the last little while since the road trip in Alberta [consecutive losses March 14 and March 16 to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers by a combined score of 13-8]. But we also know we're going to have to play better and we're going to have to limit teams' chances and that. But it's our sense of timing that's given us this little edge right now."

The Avalanche, who will play without forwards Matt Duchene (knee) and Nathan MacKinnon (knee), only had extra players Zach Redmond and Andrew Bodnarchuk and backup goalie Calvin Pickard on the ice Tuesday morning after a 4-3 victory at Nashville on Monday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Shawn Matthias - Carl Soderberg - Gabriel Landeskog

Mikkel Boedker - Mikhail Grigorenko - Blake Comeau

Andreas Martinsen - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Andrew Agozzino - Jack Skille

Chris Bigras - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin - Nikita Zadorov

Semyon Varlamov

Calvin Pickard

Injured: Matt Duchene (knee), Nathan MacKinnon (knee), Eric Gelinas (elbow), Jesse Winchester (concussion), Brad Stuart (back)

Scratched: Zach Redmond, Andrew Bodnarchuk


Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Patrik Berglund - Alexander Steen - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo

Kevin Shattenkirk - Colton Parayko

Petteri Lindbohm - Robert Bortuzzo

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Injured: Steve Ott (hamstrings), Jay Bouwmeester (upper body), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body)

Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Magnus Paajarvi, Anders Nilsson

Status report: Varlamov will start for the Avalanche after making 32 saves Monday. Coach Patrick Roy is expected to go with the same lineup he used against the Predators. ... Steen will replace Jaskin, who has played five straight games and 13 of the past 14, in the lineup and center Berglund and Backes. … Lindbohm and Bortuzzo will remain in the lineup with Bouwmeester and Gunnarsson not ready to return.

Who's hot: Boedker has three goals and six assists in 12 games with the Avalanche since being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes. … Stastny has three goals and 10 assists in his past nine games, and has five multipoint games in the past seven. … Tarasenko has five goals and five assists in the past nine games.

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