The injury-depleted Colorado Avalanche will try to snap a four-game winless streak Sunday when they visit the slumping St. Louis Blues.
The Avalanche have been outscored 15-5 while going 0-3-1. Still, they made strides during their 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at home Friday night.
Colorado put 42 shots on goal, but Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin stopped 41 of them.
“I thought our execution was way better tonight, especially on the attack,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “Overtime was well managed by our group, I thought — smart, but still in attack mode. We had three really good looks in overtime, a chance to win the game, but couldn’t get one by (Shesterkin).”
The Avalanche are playing without No. 1 center Nathan MacKinnon, who is expected to miss a month due to an upper-body injury. He joined an injury list that includes captain Gabriel Landeskog (knee surgery), forwards Arturri Lehkonen (concussion protocol), Evan Rodrigues (lower body) and Darren Helm (abductor) and defensemen Bowen Byram (lower body) and Josh Manson (lower body).
On the plus side, Colorado forward Valeri Nichushkin returned Friday after ankle surgery caused him to miss 17 games.
“Today was the best game we played with this group for a while, so next game we’re going to try and beat today’s performance,” Bednar said. “We have to carve out points. However long it takes, we have to just continually get better.”
St. Louis defeated the Avalanche 3-2 on Nov. 14 in their only previous meeting this season. But the Blues have lost five of their past six heading into this Central Division game at Enterprise Center.
They allowed four or more goals in their past nine games, prompting a strong rebuke from coach Craig Berube.
“As a coaching staff, we’re preparing them, we tell them what they need to do against this team, look for it, this is what you’ve got to do, but we can’t go out and play for them,” Berube said. “They have to go out and play, as a team, and right now, we’re not doing it. We’re not doing it enough, we’re not consistent enough 100 percent. You lose in this league.”
Berube has shuffled forward lines, changed defensive pairings and tested a variety of call-ups from the American Hockey League. But nothing has gotten the Blues back on track.
“We’ve benched guys and stuff like that here and there. That doesn’t change anything,” Berube said. “There’s too many guys, veteran guys, young guys … if they don’t come to the rink and think about the team and put the team first, we’re not going anywhere and right now, I don’t see that happening. I think it’s just the attitude of the team right now. It’s creeped in here and it’s just not good right now.”
The Blues could get defenseman Torey Krug (upper-body injury) back for this game. “I think he’s probably good to go,” Berube said after Krug returned to practice.
Winger Pavel Buchnevich (lower-body injury) remains questionable.
–Field Level Media