Blues try to stay hot in home-and-home opener against Avs

The St. Louis Blues will aim for a fourth consecutive win on Sunday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche for the opener of a home-and- home series.

The Blues have certainly helped their playoff chances this month, winning nine of 11 games after ending March on an 0-3-0 slide. All three of St. Louis' wins during the current winning streak have come by 2-1 scores and the first two were shootout victories.

St. Louis won Friday night in regulation against visiting Dallas, which had won five straight coming into the showdown. The win pushed the Blues three points ahead of Minnesota for the West's sixth seed and moved St. Louis five clear of eighth-seeded Columbus.

Like St. Louis, the Wild have four games remaining in the regular season. Minnesota will host Calgary on Sunday, while the Blue Jackets, who have three games left, are playing in San Jose.

Ryan Reaves' second-period marker proved to be the difference for St. Louis in Friday's 2-1 decision. Chris Stewart added a power-play goal and Brian Elliott posted 21 saves for the Blues.

"I thought we just managed the game today and did a good job," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We found a way to win."

The win allowed St. Louis to complete its four-game homestand with a 3-1-0 mark and Sunday's test is the Blues' final road game of the regular season. Hitchcock's team, which is 14-8-1 as the road team this season, will close the regular season on a three-game homestand that begins with the finale of this home-and-home on Tuesday.

Although Colorado is in last place in the West and already eliminated from playoff contention, Sunday's game is a dangerous one for St. Louis, which has not fared well against the Avalanche in recent years.

The Avalanche recorded a 1-0 overtime win against a visiting Blues team on Feb. 20, giving Colorado its seventh straight home win against St. Louis. The Avs also have recorded victories in 10 of the last 13 overall meetings between the clubs.

However, Colorado has lost two straight, three of four and eight of its last 10 games and was handed a 4-1 loss by the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

P.A. Parenteau accounted for Colorado's offense while Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals on 24 shots in the loss.

"It was real tough tonight. There was just no life out there," Parenteau said. "The score doesn't lie."

The Avs fell to 11-8-3 as the host this season. They'll begin a two-game road trip in St. Louis on Tuesday and then will face the Coyotes in Phoenix before closing their season next Saturday at home against Minnesota.