Preview: Blues at Avalanche
The defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues will be out for revenge when they visit the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon. Colorado snapped a six-game series slide with a 7-3 victory over St. Louis on Jan. 2 - the most goals it has yielded this season while absorbing its most lopsided loss, but the Blues lead the second-place Avalanche by 10 points in the Central Division.
Colorado enters Saturday's contest with a bit more confidence after halting a four-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over San Jose on Thursday behind 27 saves from Philipp Grubauer. "Feels good," Grubauer told reporters. "I think everybody can be proud of themselves, how they played today. As a team, everybody did the right stuff. We have to build on that. This game was the most complete I've seen. We have to make sure we get consistency and move on." St. Louis had its franchise record-tying nine-game home winning streak snapped with a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. "It's a great homestand, no doubt about it," Blues coach Craig Berube told the media about the five games at Enterprise Center. "But listen, we want all of it. We're not happy with this performance, but I'm happy with the battle back and getting a point."
TIME: 3 p.m. ET. TV: FS Midwest, Altitude
ABOUT THE BLUES (30-10-8): Alexander Steen (995 career games) has recorded all four of his goals this season in the last four contests and eight of his 14 points in the past six games. David Perron has four goals and three assists in seven January contests and leads the club with 20 goals and 47 points as he continues what ultimately could be a career season. Carl Gunnarsson will return to the lineup Saturday after missing 15 games due to a combination of an arm injury and the play of rookie Niko Mikkola, with Gunnarsson telling the St. Louis Post Dispatch: "It's been a while and now I've been sitting around waiting. It will be fun."
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (26-15-6): Colorado prevailed Thursday without any production from its top line of Nathan MacKinnon (68 points), Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabe Landeskog, who have combined for 51 points in 62 games. Ryan Graves continued his breakout season with his seventh goal and his plus-31 rating leads the NHL against San Jose. Cale Makar scored his 10th goal, tying the franchise record for a rookie blueliner set by Jon-Michael Liles in 2003-04.
1. St. Louis is the only team in the NHL without a regulation loss when scoring first (21-0-6).
2. Colorado RW Joonas Donskoi (14 goals, 29 points) will miss his fourth straight game Saturday with a concussion.
3. The Blues and their No. 4 power play have scored with the man advantage in four straight games and in six of the last seven (7-for-20) while the Avalanche are 1-for-16 in their past six contests.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Avalanche 2