It's the St Louis Blues against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. St Louis feed, so John Kelly and Bernie Federko. Ryan Smyth makes his return to the Avs lineup, while Brett Clark misses the first of what sounds like many games due to a shoulder injury.
Jose Theodore against Manny Legace.
20:00 First line is McLeod, Hlinka and Brunette, with Hannan and Leopold on defense.
19:25 The usual 2nd line is out – Wolski, Arnason and Svatos. Not much chance that Quenneville would break these guys up. Skrastins is paired with Sauer – Clark's former spot. Sauer's moved to the left side. Wasn't he on the right with Clark?
18:21 Smyth is out, and he has yet to injure himself. I can't tell you who his partners are, as Arnason and Svatos are both stuck on the ice and can't change.
17:50 Hensick and Hejduk are Smyth's linemates. Interesting line.
16:49 St Louis scores. The Avs have trouble clearing it. Erik Johnson keeps it in at the point and fires it on net. Kariya deflects it into the top corner. 1-0 St Louis.
16:33 Backes almost made it 2-0. Not a good start.
15:20 Defensive zone turnover by Guite.
15:03 Mayers and Lappy are fighting. Lots of fists thrown, not very many landed.
14:01 Thankfully, the Blues have about as many turnovers in our zone as we do; it's keeping the game close.
11:44 No shocker here: the Arnason line has had all the chances tonight.
11:03 I didn't realize Yan Stastny was up again (he's a healthy scratch tonight). I'd really like to see a Stastny matchup some day.
10:07 Erik Johnson sweeps away a puck on the goal line. We were inches away from tying it up.
9:38 We're a lot farther away from tying it now. King throws it on net and Theo gives up a meaty reabound right to McClement. He scores easily to make it 2-0. Theo doesn't look very sharp.
7:11 The Arnason line gets about 27 scoring chances on this latest shift, but Legace stops them all. They will get a PP out of the deal, as Stempniak trips up Arnason in front of the net.
7:07 Ok, let's see who the personnel is…Liles and Finger…Hejduk, Hensick and Smyth.
5:51 And Wolski's on the point on the 2nd unit. Wolski, Leopold, Brunette, Svatos, Arnason.
5:50 Well, he should have been on the point. But he got caught watching the play behind the St Louis net, and the Blues get a 2 on 1 shorthanded break with Leopold the only guy back and Arnason trying to catch up on the play. They don't score, but that was just awful. I can't believe Wolski is a better option at the point than Scott Hannan. Hell, I'd take Sauer or Skrastins.
3:17 Great save by Legace on Hensick. This is not the Legace we saw the last time out.
2:52 Skrastins gets penalized for…playing hockey. Kariya dumps it in and Skrastins hits him. This, in the eyes of a nancyboy ref, is interference. I am so not enjoying this game.
2-0 St Louis after 20. The Blues have been winning all the faceoffs, are playing better transitional hockey, and have the better goaltending so far. Super.
19:25 Interference on Backes. Our ineffective PP is getting two more minutes. Yay.
18:30 I'm going to see if I can type this without making my blood boil. The Avs are using 4 forwards again. But they are essentially just keeping one guy – Liles – at the point. This seems to be working until Liles pinches in…and turns over the puck. Wolski has moved back to cover for Liles…but he's not a defenseman. When Ryan Johnson grabs the puck from Liles' turnover, Wolski gets back okay, but gets completely turned around by Johnson's little stickhandling move. Meanwhile, Theodore is enjoying a nice latte in the net, and barely bats an eyelash at the puck. 3-0 St Louis. Theodore gets yanked after that, and not a moment too soon. The crowd reaction to Budaj tells me I'm not the only happy about the move.
18:08 That's Johnson's first goal in 52 games. So yes, folks, there are colder players than Liles. Or were.
17:30 Just as the penalty is expiring, Hinote carelessly flips it over the glass. The Avs get two more minutes on the PP.
16:55 This time, though, they bring Finger in to work the point with Liles. Good move.
15:10 Budaj is in the game with two big saves on Boyes.
14:21 One line change of note – Richardson and McLeod have swapped (I got fooled by the McLeod-taking-the-opening-faceoff-thing). Richie is playing with Hlinka and Bruno, and McLeod is with Guite and Lappy.
13:05 Man, Legace is absolutely on his game tonight. The Avalanche have had a lot of really good scoring chances.
11:16 Backes nails Lappy at center ice. Lappy never saw it coming.
9:21 Finger catches Hinote with a big hit. Hinote goes off the ice very slowly.
It's 3-0 after 2. The Avs are playing better, but it doesn't look like Legace is going to allow 1 goal tonight, let alone 3 or 4. For his part, Budaj has made a bunch of great saves in his end to keep the Avs from getting blown out.
18:48 Well, Smyth tried the walk in front from behind the net thing, but Legace was ready.
16:57 Guite scores. The Avs work hard to keep the puck in on the shift (Guite at one point was playing the puck in the corner while laying on the ice). The Blues turn it over and Guite gets it a bit beyond the faceoff circles and beats Legace with a long shot. 3-1 Colorado. You know this will end 3-2, right?
14:22 Colorado is certainly knocking on the door. So many scoring chances…
10:09 The Avs are going on the PP. McClement for holding on Hlinka.
9:53 Leo and Liles are on the point. Is it safe to say the 4 forward thing is officially over with the debacle of the 3rd goal?
8:09 Of course, we don’t score
7:53 Mayer and Brewer both hit the post.
7:47 Smyth pushes Jackman into Legace after a whistle. There's a bit of a scrum after that. Smyth and Tkachuk both get roughing minors.
4:58 Amazing save on Hejduk. He, Hensick and Smyth had an odd-man, and Hejduk had an easy stuff. Legace got over and got his pad on it. He has been the difference tonight without question.
2:49 The Avs have 39 shots so far. It might as well be 239 – they ain't getting any past Legace.
1:59 Budaj is off.
1:27 Backes scores from the far end of the rink. 4-1. Game over.
Well, the good news is that we won't have to face Legace again this year…unless he gets traded.