Blues Beat Avalanche 3-1, Clinch Playoff Spot
ST. LOUIS (AP) – Chris Stewart reached career milestones of 100 goals and 100 assists and the St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff berth with two games to spare, beating the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Brian Elliott had to make just 17 saves two nights after getting yanked in a 5-3 loss at Colorado that squandered the Blues’ first chance at clinching. St. Louis, which entered the game needing a point to qualify, scored two power play goals for the first time in 32 games since Feb. 15 in the home-and-home rematch.
Patrik Berglund and Andy McDonald beat Semyon Varlamov on consecutive shots in the second period to make it 3-0. Together, that duo had mustered two assists in 14 games.
The Blues have made the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2003-04. They’ve won four in a row at home to match their season best, taking the first three by 2-1 scores, and were in fifth place in the Western Conference and a point ahead of San Jose, at home against the Stars later Tuesday.
Cody McLeod scored his eighth of the season and fifth in five games for the Avalanche, which is an NHL-worst 3-16-4 on the road. Varlamov made 31 saves.
The Blues had plenty of offense without top line forward David Perron, demoted to the fourth line after a giveaway in Colorado.
Stewart’s power-play goal opened the scoring and he assisted on the third goal against the team that traded him to St. Louis in 2010-11. His second goal in three games and team-leading 18th overall came on the deflection of Jordan Leopold’s shot from the point, giving the defenseman his first point in 13 games since joining the Blues in a trade deadline deal with Buffalo.
Colorado penalty killers had been 10 for 10 the previous four games, including three chances by the Blues on Sunday, but paid for Jamie McGinn’s interference call.
Berglund got his first goal in eight games with a deflection on a power play early in the second, with Leopold gaining another assist. McDonald made it 3-0 with his first goal in seven games, keeping the puck in the zone and then charging to the net for a return pass from Vladimir Sobotka before converting on the backhand at 5:13.
Colorado got on the board with just its second shot of the second period. The Blues appeared to relax on a delayed tripping call to McDonald in the offensive zone and the Avalanche got an odd-man rush with McLeod beating Elliott with a high drive to the glove side at 15:13.
Prior to his goal spurt, McLeod totaled three assists in 24 games.
NOTES: Blues D Barret Jackman did not play in the third period and was not on the bench. The team made no announcement. … The Blues were 1 for 24 on the power play the previous nine games and last scored more than one goal with the man advantage on Feb. 15 at Calgary. … Avalanche D Erik Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick by the Blues in 2006, missed his fifth straight game with a hand injury. … Blues D Jay Bouwmeester played his 633rd consecutive game, the longest current streak in any professional league, and will be in the playoffs for the first time.
- By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
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