Avalanche-Blues Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 07, 2012
Though the Colorado Avalanche are once again playing well on the road, they are likely to face a stiff test in their next contest against the team with best home record in the NHL. Trying to match a season high with their fifth consecutive victory overall, the surging Avalanche look to complete a perfect four-game trip Saturday night when they face a St. Louis Blues team that has not suffered a regulation home loss in more than a month. Colorado (23-18-1) opened the season with six straight road wins then dropped its next nine away from home. The Avalanche have since followed that skid with four consecutive road victories after a 4-0 win at Chicago on Friday. Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for his second shutout while T.J. Galiardi had a goal with an assist as the Avalanche won for the ninth time in 10 games overall. Colorado has allowed more than two goals once over the last 10 games - that coming in a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg on Dec. 27. The Avalanche also have scored four goals in two of their last three games. "If we can keep doing that, I think we'll have success," Galiardi told the NHL's official website. Varlamov, who has stopped 103 of 108 shots during his four-game winning streak, could be back in net as Colorado looks for a third straight win over St. Louis (23-12-5) this season. Both previous victories came by 3-2 scores at the Pepsi Center. The fourth-year netminder is 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average against St. Louis. Teammate Jean-Sebastien Giguere, meanwhile, has a 1.96 GAA while winning five of his last six starts and stopped 37 shots against the Blues on Dec. 21. "Our goaltending has been unbelievable," Galiardi said. Colorado has won nine of 10 overall against the Blues, but its lone loss during that span came 3-1 on the road April 5 to snap a three-game win streak in the series at the Scottrade Center. A league-best 16-3-2 at home, the Blues are 8-0-1 in St. Louis since losing 5-2 in regulation to Chicago on Dec. 3. The Blues snapped a three-game losing streak overall by beating Phoenix and Edmonton to open their current three-game home stretch. "We're a good home team. We're a good team period,'' said defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, who had three assists in a 4-3 win over the Oilers on Thursday. "When we play the way we're capable to playing, good things happen.'' St. Louis' David Backes, who two goals and eight assists in his last 10 games, has three and an assist during his last six versus Colorado. Though St. Louis is 18-0-0 when scoring three or more goals this season, it has not posted more than three in any game while losing nine of 10 against the Avalanche. Jaroslav Halak has been in net the last two games and has a 1.95 GAA during a 6-0-3 stretch, but ex-Avalanche goalie Brian Elliott is likely to make the start for the Blues on Saturday. Elliott is 14-5-0 with a 1.70 GAA in his first season with St. Louis, but has allowed six goals while dropping his last two starts. He made 19 saves in the loss at Colorado on Dec. 21.
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