Preview: Blues at Avalanche
The defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues try for their seventh straight victory over Colorado when they visit the Avalanche on Thursday. First-place St. Louis had its eight-game winning streak snapped with a 3-1 loss at Arizona on Tuesday and leads slumping Colorado by eight points in the Central Division.
"If you told us at the start of the year we'd be here, we'd be happy, but you've got to keep improving,'' Blues goalie Jake Allen told reporters. "Every game is crucial, and you can't take any points for granted in this league, especially in our division, in our conference. A lot of teams are coming for us, we're the reigning champs." The Avalanche have lost three straight (0-2-1) and five of their last six games after a 7-4 setback to Winnipeg on Dec. 31. "We keep shooting (ourselves) in our own leg," Colorado right wing Mikko Rantanen told reporters. "We do mistakes on our own, you know? It's costing us right now, so we just have to figure it out. It's a tough division, tough conference, and we can't keep dropping these points." St. Louis won the two previous meetings this season by a combined 8-3 with David Perron scoring four goals, including a hat trick in a 5-2 victory Dec. 16.
TIME: 9:30 p.m. ET. TV: NBC Sports Network
ABOUT THE BLUES (26-9-6): Perron had four goals and six assists during a six-game point streak before he was kept off the scoresheet against Arizona, giving him 16 goals and a team-high 40 points this season. Brayden Schenn (club-most 17 goals), Jaden Schwartz and Ryan O'Reilly each have 34 points with Schenn (five games) and Schwartz (six) also having point streaks come to an end Tuesday. Jordan Binnington, who will participate in his first All-Star Game later this month, tries for his seventh straight victory Thursday after Allen made 23 saves versus Arizona.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (23-13-4): Nathan MacKinnon is tied for fourth in the league with 24 goals and sits fifth in points (58) after scoring twice Tuesday but is minus-9 in his last eight games after he was minus-4 versus Winnipeg. Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored Tuesday and has four of his 10 goals in the last six games, but is a minus-11 during that span. Rookie defenseman Cale Makar is second on the club with 29 points, but recorded only one while a minus-5 in three games since returning from an upper-body injury.
1. St. Louis is 18-0-4 when scoring first - the only team without a regulation loss in such games.
2. Colorado D Sam Girard has two assists Tuesday, giving him four in the last six games, but is a minus-10 in that stretch.
3. The Blues had scored a power-play goal in four straight games (5-for-8) before going 0-for-4 versus Arizona while the Avalanche have permitted one in three consecutive contests.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Avalanche 2