Sunday, November 6, 2016

Blues break offensive drought, blast Avalanche 5-1

Five players score, including Fabbri, Lehtera getting 
first goals respectively; Edmundson injured, may be out a while

ST. LOUIS -- It was the kind of breakout game the Blues had been waiting for in quite a while.

For the better part of the past three weeks, goals have been hard to come by, but the Blues have managed to stay afloat the best they could.

But Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche, the Blues were shot out of a cannon, and wave after wave, shift after shift, they came at the Avalanche early and often in bunches that resulted in goals from five different players of a 5-1 victory Sunday before 17,220 at Scottrade Center.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jori Lehtera (second from left) celebrates with teammates Vladimir
Tarasenko and Carl Gunnarsson after scoring Sunday night.

The Blues (7-4-2), who won on consecutive days after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in overtime Saturday, got goals from Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera, who scored their first goals of the season, and Jaden Schwartz, Scottie Upshall and David Perron also scored.

"First period today was the best period we've played all year," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "Just our puck pursuit, our tenacity, our secondary forecheck was excellent. ... Looked like a team that was right on the mark. 

"We could have really put it away in the first period. When you're drawing up the game plan, that's exactly the way you want. I was really happy the way we played in the first period."

Kevin Shattenkirk had three assists and goalie Jake Allen made 22 saves for St. Louis.

"It was a good feeling when you saw one line go out and have a great shift and we were following it and not taking any shifts off," Fabbri said. "It was great to see us doing that for three periods."

The Avalanche (5-6-0) were coming off a 1-0 win against the Minnesota Wild at home on Saturday. Matt Duchene scored and goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 20 on 25 shots before being replaced at the start of the third period by Calvin Pickard, who made three saves.

The Avalanche have scored three goals the past four games.

"If you're on your heels and defending all night and our compete level wasn't quite like it needed to be, it gets pretty tough," said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, who was the coach of the Blues' American Hockey League affiliate in Peoria from 2010-12. "You've got to have everybody going. Tonight we didn't."

The Blues scored in the first period for the first time in seven games and did so twice in a span of 1:58.

Fabbri scored off a 2-on-1 with Dmitrij Jaskin and beat Varlamov short side 1:37 into the game to give the Blues a 1-0 lead.

"It felt like it was my first goal like I got last year," Fabbri said. "Just get that weight off the shoulders. Just keep building off that now and keep going."

Lehtera put the Blues ahead 2-0 when he took Carl Gunnarsson's pass in the slot and sent a quick shot over Varlamov at 3:35 of the first, and the Blues were off and running in a period where they could have led 4-, 5-0 had it not been for a pair of breakaway saves by Varlamov on Alexander Steen in the first 30 seconds of the game and on Paul Stastny in the last 30 seconds of the period.

"It's just funny how it is like that," Stastny said of the early momentum. "Then you can roll with the lines a little bit, then all the lines find their groove because you're just playing out there. 

"We came at them early because we know these back-to-back games are tough. We played a little later than they did yesterday, but they had to travel and we knew it's one of those kind of more mental games than it is physical because everyone's tired out there. To get that first one, second one early and just keep building on that was big for us."

The Avalanche got to within 2-1 when Duchene tipped Francois Beauchemin's point shot at 6:38 of the second period.

But that's when the fourth line took over and grabbed the momentum back.

The Blues scored three straight in 4:12 during the second. 

It all started with Ryan Reaves, who turned on the jets and was able to draw a tripping penalty on Colorado's Patrick Wiercioch that set up a power play, and Schwartz tipped Steen's shot at 14:54 that broke the Blues' 0-for-19 streak on the power play to make it 3-1. 

The Blues' fourth line isn't asked to score much, but the line was on par with three guys doing their jobs to set up Upshall's goal. Kyle Brodziak checked the puck off for a turnover, Reaves made the cross-ice backhand feed and Upshall's one-timer finished it off at 17:03 to make it 4-1.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues forward David Perron (57) tries to get around Colorado defenseman
Patrick Wiercioch near the Avalanche goal Sunday night.

"I draw the penalty because I can't skate and then I blacked out on the pass," Reaves joked. 

"It was a great pass," Upshall said. "Our fourth line has been working hard lately getting chances, so it was nice to be able to chip in. Seventy-five made a great play. Brodziak did a great job getting it deep and then, the backhand, no-look sauce was laid perfect. One of those ones you just try to put it in the back of the net. It worked well."

Perron scored his first goal in seven games at 19:06 to make it 5-1, a shot that caromed off Varlamov's glove and shoulder that ultimately ended his night.

"You saw what happened. I gave up five goals," Varlamov said. "It is my fault; I'll take (the blame)."

* NOTES -- Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson left the game early in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Edmundson was checked into the side boards in his own zone by Avalanche forward Rene Bourque. He could be seen crunched over and left the ice. 

"I would say this is going to be a little past days," Hitchcock said. "It's not going to be day-to-day here. It's going to be a little more extended than that." 

The Blues are off Monday, but defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who has missed the past five games with a lower-body injury, will skate with the training staff on Monday and be reevaluated then. Could be just in time too if Edmundson misses extended time.

... There was a moment of silence for former Avalanche forward Marek Svatos, who passed away Saturday. 

Svatos was with the Blues in 2010-11 momentarily but was claimed by the Nashville Predators on waivers.

"I played with him for a few years, my wife's really good friends with his wife," Stastny said. "In a couple days we'll find out what really happened, but it doesn't matter. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and their two kids and his family. You just hope they can kind of cope with it and give them as much help as they can because they have two young kids, two young boys and her as well. Hopefully, he's in a better place, rest in peace to him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Diana and those two little boys. They need all the love and care they can get."

Svatos played 344 NHL games with the Avalanche, Predators and Ottawa Senators and had 100 goals and 72 assists in seven seasons.

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