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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 20th (All times Eastern)
St. Louis Blues (9-6-1) at Colorado Avalanche (6-7-1), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock ripped his team's effort Tuesday night following the club's fifth straight setback at home. The Blues will get a chance to rebound on the road Wednesday evening before the start of their next homestand as they try to pick up their first victory in Colorado over the Avalanche in almost four years.
St. Louis had one of the best home records in 2011-12, going 30-6-5 en route to capturing the Central Division crown. However, a 2-1 setback to San Jose dropped the Blues to 3-4-1 as the hosting team this season compared to a 6-2-0 mark on the road.
Coming off a perfect three-game road trip, the Blues were limited to just a first-period goal from Patrik Berglund as they failed to secure their first win in St. Louis since Jan. 27.
A frustrated Hitchcock wasted no time calling out his team, which begins a three-game homestand on Saturday.
"This is a common thing we've been doing these past four or five games at home. It's the same stuff," said Hitchcock. "There's too many passengers, too many people who aren't pulling their weight. Too much skill ahead of work -- same guys. Night in and night out at home. We don't do it on the road, but we do it at home.
"And we're not good enough, we're not skilled enough to play that way, but that's what happened. So when you put skill ahead of work, maybe you get away with it a little bit, but when you do it constantly, too many guys want the game to be a little bit easier. That's the difference."
Berglund's team-leading ninth goal of the season extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-high four games in a row, while rookie Jake Allen lost for the first time in four starts despite 23 saves.
Allen had won his first three NHL starts while filling in with Jaroslav Halak hurt and Brian Elliott struggling.
Halak is expected to make his first start in this game since suffering a groin injury on Feb. 1 and is 3-0-0 in five starts this season with a 2.10 goals against average, .889 save percentage and two shutouts.
The 27-year-old is 2-2-1 lifetime versus the Avs with a 2.97 GAA and .909 save percentage. He'll try to snap the Blues' six-game skid in Colorado, where they haven't won since April 12, 2009.
The Avalanche have won nine of the previous 12 meetings overall and look to extend their offensive burst after matching a season high in goals scored with Monday's 6-5 victory over Nashville.
The two teams combined for seven goals in the second frame, one that Matt Duchene opened with a controversial goal just 3:18 in. The winger took a pass and looked to be offsides, but no whistle was blown and he put home his sixth goal of the season to give his club a two-goal lead.
"I was 100 percent offsides," Duchene admitted. "But I think the ruling was that Nashville brought the puck back in. ... The puck was besides me and I thought 'I'll just touch it and get a whistle here and get a faceoff at the line.'. They didn't blow the whistle so the goalie just stood up and I was able to catch him quick there."
The goal loomed even larger when Nashville pulled within a goal with 1:18 to play before Colorado held on.
Duchene and Aaron Palushaj both registered a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who had lost four of their previous five and snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Predators. Duchene matched a career high by extending his goal-scoring streak to four straight games while notching consecutive three- point games for the first time in his career.
"It was nice, anytime you can get the offense going is good," said Palushaj, who has scored twice in four contests since joining Colorado as a waiver claim from Montreal on Feb. 5. "Obviously you don't want to give up five against, but we had six. We're going to continue to work offensively, score goals and tighten up defensively a bit."
Paul Stastny added a goal and an assist, while Jamie McGinn and Chuck Kobasew also found the back of the net. Tyson Barrie scored his first NHL goal for an Avs club that has netted 13 goals in its past three games.
Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves in the victory and is slated to start this contest. He is 3-0-1 lifetime versus the Blues in four starts with a 1.93 GAA and .947 save percentage.
02/20 10:57:52 ET