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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, April 5th (All times Eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (49-21-6) at St. Louis Blues (52-17-7), 2 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche can make the race for the Central Division crown just a bit more interesting on Saturday afternoon when they try to match their longest winning streak of the season in a battle with the first-place St. Louis Blues.

The Avs have won five in a row to post their longest string of consecutive victories since Oct. 19-Nov. 2, the second of two six-game winning streaks this season.

Colorado's run has upped its season point total to 104, seven back of St. Louis' 111 points with six games to play for both clubs. The Avalanche also are one point ahead of the third-place Chicago Blackhawks with two games in hand.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie came up with a clutch performance on Thursday versus the New York Rangers, scoring the game-tying goal with 51.4 seconds left in regulation before notching the lone tally of the shootout.

Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards in the shootout to secure the victory for the Avalanche. He improved to 39-14-5 this season with a 2.47 goals against average in 60 games (57 starts) this season.

Varlamov also matched current head coach Patrick Roy's franchise record for most home victories in a season with 24, set in 2000-01 in Colorado's Stanley Cup-winning season.

"In my opinion (Varlamov) should be a candidate for the Hart Trophy. That's how high I think of what he's doing," Roy said.

Andre Benoit scored in the second period as Colorado recorded its 49th victory of the season, tied for the second most in team history. The aforementioned 2000-01 squad logged 52 victories in the regular season.

After earning high praise from his coach, Varlamov is slated to start today's game as well as Sunday's home contest versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is 4-4-1 lifetime versus the Blues with a 2.16 GAA.

The Blues, meanwhile, will look to separate themselves a bit more from the Avalanche and have won five of their last six games. That includes Thursday's 2-1 triumph over the Buffalo Sabres, one that gave St. Louis a franchise-best 52nd victory of the season.

The Blues also are tied with the Bruins for the most points in the NHL with a game in hand. Boston hosts the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon.

Brian Elliott made the start as Ryan Miller got a night off despite the Blues taking on his former Sabres club. Elliott was solid with 24 saves, having a shutout bid spoiled with under a minute to play.

"I've been around Brian (Elliott) for three years, this is the best I've ever seen him play," St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's playing terrific."

Maxim Lapierre and Brenden Morrow each tallied goals, with the latter's coming with 1:52 left to play to help the Western Conference-leading Blues improve to 13-3-1 since they acquired Miller from Buffalo on Feb. 28.

The Blues also played without leading scorer Alex Steen (upper body) and defenseman Barret Jackman (lower body), with blueliner Jordan Leopold getting into the lineup for the first time since Feb. 8. Steen, who has 33 goals and 60 points this season, and Jackman are questionable for today's game.

The Blues will visit the Blackhawks on Sunday and Miller is set to return to net today. He is, however, just 1-3-3 in his career when facing the Avalanche with a 3.21 GAA.

Today marks the fourth and final regular-season meeting between these clubs, with the Blues having won four in a row in the series.

St. Louis recorded a 7-3 victory in the most recent home matchup on Nov. 14, its fifth straight as the host against Colorado.

04/05 10:31:30 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ORL 83
CHA 98
8:00pm Tonight
SAV
NCCU
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CAR
 
Final
PHI 2
UTA 6
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
FIU
 
1:05pm Today
DET
FLASO
 
Final
HOU 105
CLE 103
Final
ORL 83
CHA 98
Final
BOS 101
GSW 106
Final
IND 94
PHI 74
Final
SAC 99
POR 110
Final
LAL 101
OKC 108
Final
DEN 92
NOP 99
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
GSW
 
7:30pm Tonight
MIA
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
LAC
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
NOP
 
Final
NIAG 57
FAIR 56
 
Final
PETE 68
IONA 60
 
Final
RIDE 59
MAR 49
 
Final
MAN 69
QUIN 65
 
Final
UCONN 81
SMU 73
Final
CAL 73
ORST 56
Final
HOU 72
SFLA 55
Final
PROV 77
MARQ 66
Final
WISC 68
MSU 61
Final
MON 63
SIENA 57
 
Final
WAKE 69
PITT 66
Final
STAN 70
OREG 73
Final
OSU 65
PURD 61
Final
COL 87
ARST 81
Final
UCLA 72
WASU 67
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TEX
BAY
 
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SYR
UVA
 
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NCAT
COOK
 
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SHSU
CARK
 
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DELST
HAMP
 
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HOW
NORST
 
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NWST
SELA
 
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STEPH
INCWORD
 
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MCNST
LAM
 
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SAV
NCCU
 
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NO
NICST
 
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ARKPB
JST
 
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ALAST
PVU
 
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ALAAM
TXSOU
 
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VT
BC
 
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MVSU
GRAM
 
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ISU
OKLA
 
Final
WIN 5
LOS 2
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PIT 5
CLB 3
Final
FLA 4
TAM 3
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WAS 4
TOR 0
Final
DAL 1
ANA 3
Final
VAN 6
STL 5
 
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NYR
NAS
 
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
CAR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
MON