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Avalanche, Roy give it to Blues

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- After handing the St. Louis Blues a decisive 4-0 victory on the ice Saturday, the Colorado Avalanche continued the attack after the game, including coach Patrick Roy calling Blues captain David Backes "gutless."

Roy was upset about a hit by Backes on 18-year-old rookie Nathan MacKinnon with 5:17 to play in the game. Backes received minor penalties for roughing and cross-checking and a 10-minute misconduct on the play.

"To me, it's gutless," Roy said. "It shows what kind of a leader he is if you are going after an 18-year-old. He could have gone after (center Maxime) Talbot in the first. I was not very impressed -- gutless in my opinion."

The Blues were upset about what their perceived to be an unnecessary hit by Colorado left winger Patrick Bordeleau on defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk about three minutes earlier in the period.

"His own stick hit him in the nose," Roy said of Shattenkirk's bloody nose. "He was bleeding. He made a pretty big act, but unfortunately it was a stick. It was the right call by the referees."

The Avalanche jumped on the Blues for three goals in the span of 9:11 in the second period, with center Paul Stastny, who spent a lot of his childhood living in St. Louis, getting a power-play goal and an assist. He later added another assist on Colorado's final goal in the third period.

Stastny said he thought it was frustration on the part of the Blues that led to all of the skirmishes in the final period, which included a brawl with 2:08 to play resulting in nine players receiving misconduct penalties. The Blues already had lost Backes, left winger Brenden Morrow and defenseman Barret Jackman to similar penalties.

"You had one guy running around slashing everyone and another guy who jumped an 18-year-old," Stastny said. "We're going to stand up for each other and that's what we did."

Backes did not want to be dragged into a war of words with Roy and neither did Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.

"He's entitled to his opinion," Backes said. "That's OK."

Backes said he was upset by the hit on Shattenkirk and some "liberties" he thought Colorado's players were taking on the power-play.

"I dropped my glove, but I never threw a punch," he said. "It's frustration for a lot of guys. They (the Avalanche) jumped up (in the second period) and we didn't respond and kind of fell back on our heels. It was a game where we needed a great performance and we didn't get it, and they had it and they got the two points."

The bigger concern to Hitchcock was the fact his team is mired in a scoring slump. Even though the Blues won their previous two games, one win came in a shootout in a scoreless game in regulation and overtime and the other in which they scored one goal in the game's first 58 minutes.

"The league will deal with Bordeleau," Hitchcock said. "Down the line we'll answer. That's all the debris around the game. The thing I probably should have done was put (right winger Ryan) Reaves out there and made for even a bigger explosion. That's not the issue. The issue was we didn't score any goals. We didn't create enough offense in the second half of the game. We looked slow.

"When you are not scoring goals, it puts a lot of pressure on a lot of areas. We've got to look and be a lot more creative than we are from a goal-scoring standpoint."

Hitchcock would not discuss Roy's accusations against Backes.

"He can say whatever he wants," Hitchcock said. "He always has something to say after every game. You guys pick up what he wants. I'm worried about my team and the way we played."

Goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 shots in his second shutout of the season and his 40th victory, which tied the franchise record set by Roy in 2000-01.

The win was Colorado's sixth in a row and pulled the Avalanche within five points of the Blues, 111 to 106, in the Central Division standings.

The Blues fell two points behind Boston in the race for the President's Trophy after the Bruins' 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, but St. Louis still leads the Anaheim Ducks by three points in the battle for the top spot in the Western Conference.

The victory was the first for Colorado in four games against the Blues this season.

NOTES: Both teams played without one of their leading scorers. LW Alexander Steen, who leads the Blues with 33 goals, missed his second consecutive game with an "upper body" injury. He is considered doubtful for Sunday's game at the Chicago Blackhawks. ... Colorado will be without C Matt Duchene, who has a team-leading 70 points, for the rest of the regular season because of a knee injury. ... LW Cody McLeod also did not play for the Avalanche after suffering an ankle injury in Thursday night's game. He is considered day to day. ... Colorado will host Pittsburgh on Sunday night, beginning a stretch of five games in the final eight days of the season. After Sunday's day game in Chicago, the Blues will have four games remaining, starting Tuesday night at home against the Washington Capitals.
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