Sports

Blues score 3 times in 1st period, beat Avalanche 5-1

  • St. Louis Blues center David Backes, second from left, celebrates scoring a goal with, from left, center Paul Stastny, right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, of Russia, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    St. Louis Blues center David Backes, second from left, celebrates scoring a goal with, from left, center Paul Stastny, right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, of Russia, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)  (The Associated Press)

  • St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz, right, tries to wrap around the net for a shot past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz, right, tries to wrap around the net for a shot past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)  (The Associated Press)

  • St. Louis Blues left wing Magnus Paajarvi, top left, of Sweden, scores a goal past Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, top right, of Russia, as Avalanche center Carl Soderberg, front left, of Sweden, and Blues center Paul Stastny look on in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    St. Louis Blues left wing Magnus Paajarvi, top left, of Sweden, scores a goal past Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, top right, of Russia, as Avalanche center Carl Soderberg, front left, of Sweden, and Blues center Paul Stastny look on in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)  (The Associated Press)

David Backes started the scoring in a three-goal first period, Anders Nilsson made 19 saves in relief of an apparently injured Jake Allen, and the St. Louis Blues beat Colorado 5-1 on Sunday night as the Avalanche moved to the brink of postseason elimination.

Magnus Paajarvi, Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Blues, who are chasing Dallas for the Central Division title and trying to stay ahead of Chicago. Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 2:55 remaining.

Matt Duchene scored late for the Avalanche, who maintained their slim playoff hopes with Minnesota losing to Winnipeg on Sunday. They trail the Wild by five points for the final Western Conference berth.

Both teams switched their starting goalie for the second period. Allen was replaced by Nilsson after sustaining an injury, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the NBC Sports broadcast in a bench interview.