The Colorado Avalanche began a four-game homestand in impressive fashion, and they hope some more strong play at Pepsi Center can help boost them back to the top of the Northwest Division.
Their next opponent, however, has looked much better on the road, and the St. Louis Blues will seek a third straight victory away from home as they visit Denver on Monday night.
Colorado (32-19-6) had dropped four of five overall before Saturday’s meeting with Edmonton, but the Avalanche outshot the NHL’s worst team 42-20 in a resounding 3-0 victory.
Avs coach Joe Sacco shook up his club’s lines before the game, and the newly united trio of Wojtek Wolski(notes) and rookies Matt Duchene(notes) and Brandon Yip(notes) was on the ice for all of Colorado’s goals.
Wolski broke a five-game point drought with his 17th goal, while Yip added an empty-netter for his ninth tally. Duchene’s assist was his 39th point, which ranks the 19-year-old first among NHL rookies.
“I think every now and then, things need to be switched up a little bit, and obviously we’ve been on the skids lately,” Duchene said. “(Wolski) and I have played together before, we played together a lot in training camp and had good chemistry. Yipper’s a guy that I’ve played with too and have chemistry with, so our line just clicked.”
The victory kept the Avs two points behind division-leading Vancouver, which is in the midst of 14 consecutive road games. The Avs, meanwhile, will play their next three at home, where they are 17-8-2.
“We want to go into the break on top, and there’s a lot of hard work ahead for that,” Duchene said.
Strong defense has been the key while Colorado has won six of its last eight in Denver, with opponents totaling seven goals in those games. Craig Anderson(notes) notched his sixth shutout of the season Saturday.
Backup Peter Budaj(notes) stopped 35 shots for his only shutout in the Avs’ 4-0 win at St. Louis on Dec. 7, and the Blues probably can’t make a serious playoff push unless they improve their dismal play at home.
But despite sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference, the Blues (25-24-9) have the NHL’s fourth-best winning percentage on the road.
They improved to 16-8-4 away from home with a 3-2 victory at Chicago on Wednesday, but followed that with back-to-back home losses, including a 2-1 defeat to the Blackhawks on Saturday night.
“It seems like we’re in every game, but we’re just not getting to that level that we need to get points and to win,” Blues goalie Chris Mason(notes) said. “These are good teams we’re playing, but still, we’ve got to beat these teams if we want to get in the playoffs, especially at home.”
The Blues could certainly use more goal-scoring if they hope to get back in the postseason race. Saturday’s loss marked the sixth time in their last seven games that they scored two or fewer goals.
“I’ve got to step up and score more goals when we need them,” Boyes said. “We’re a good team, we’ve played good teams, we’ve beaten good teams. We believe that for sure, it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”