Avs Conclude Five-Game Trip By Facing Blues
Monday, 12.07.2009 / 5:00 PM
NHL.comAVALANCHE (16-9-6) at BLUES (12-10-5)
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Altitude and KKHI 101.9 FM.
Colorado 3-4-3; St. Louis 6-3-1
First of four meetings this season. Colorado won the opener last season before St. Louis took three straight. Brad Boyes led all scorers with three goals, including the only tally in the most recent matchup, April 12 in Denver. Chris Mason stopped all 28 shots he faced in the 1-0 victory.
When the Avalanche signed Craig Anderson
over the summer, Peter Budaj
had to know his workload would be lightened. He probably wasn't expecting Anderson to start 27 of the first 29 games, however. Relegated to the sidelines, Budaj has emerged as a key player in the past week with Anderson suffering a neck injury in Florida. He turned in consecutive 29-save performances against Pittsburgh and Columbus, leading Colorado to a 3-2 win in the latter game.
"I think he's a pretty resilient guy," coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "It's been a tough go for him over the past couple of months here. He understood his role, he worked hard, and he prepared himself so when his opportunity came he was ready. He's done a real solid job for us the last couple of games."
Avalanche: This is the finale of a five-game road trip that has seen Colorado go 2-1-1 to stay right in the thick of the Northwest Division race. The Avalanche trails the Calgary Flames by one point entering Monday's action. They gave the defending champion Penguins all they could handle Thursday before falling 4-1 following a pair of empty-net goals, then rebounded to edge the Blue Jackets on Saturday with Budaj playing a key role.
"I looked in the mirror and said I had to do whatever I could to help this team win hockey games," Budaj told the Denver Post. "We were fortunate enough to have won at least one of these last two. We played pretty good at Pittsburgh, but the game kind of ran away from us when they got those two empty-netters.
For the third time in six games, St. Louis gave up the tying goal in the last minute of regulation. It didn't cost the Blues on Saturday, though, as they came back to beat the Kings 5-4 in Los Angeles on the strength of shootout goals by Andy McDonald and Boyes. It was their second consecutive win via the penalty-shot tiebreaker to finish up a three-game road trip.
"The only thing that concerns us right now is that we got the two points here tonight," coach Andy Murray told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "San Jose (which St. Louis beat 3-2 on Thursday) is on top of the League and, in my opinion, the L.A. Kings are one of the best teams in the League. So for us to get four points on this road trip is gratifying."
Wojtek Wolski had a goal and an assist against Columbus, giving the Colorado forward two goals and five assists during a six-game points streak. Paul Stastny
has two goals and eight points in his last six games. Rookie center Matt Duchene
has four goals and six points on the road trip.
St. Louis needs Paul Kariya to continue his recent production that's seen him post four goals and an assist in his last five games. Boyes has goals in three of his last five.
Anderson is questionable to play Monday, so Budaj will likely make a third straight start. Defensemen Kyle Cumiskey
(foot) and Ruslan Salei (back) and forward David Jones
(torn left ACL) are all on injured reserve for the Avalanche.
The Blues continue to play without defenseman Eric Brewer (lower-body injury) and forward D.J. King (right hand surgery).
Mason has been stingy in his career against the Avalanche, posting a 6-3-0 record with an excellent 1.56 goals-against average.
Colorado may have tapered off after a blazing start, but it still boasts one of the League's more potent offenses. St. Louis gave up just three goals in its three victories in last season's series.