Blues-Avalanche Preview

Recent struggles have the Colorado Avalanche teetering on elimination from the Western Conference playoff race again. Their remaining four games come against teams that have already booked spots in the postseason.

The Avalanche try to keep their hopes alive Sunday night against the St. Louis Blues.

Colorado (39-35-4) is five points behind Minnesota for the last remaining playoff spot in the conference. Despite having a game in hand, the Avalanche will be eliminated from the race with a regulation loss combined with a Wild win in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Even with a win, the Avalanche's remaining schedule is daunting with matchups at Nashville and Dallas before concluding the season at home versus Anaheim on Saturday.

"We have a tough road ahead of us, but it's still possible to make the playoffs. So that's really where the focus is," right wing Jarome Iginla told the team's official website. "Now it's St. Louis. Like I said, it's a hard road, but it is still possible. The only chance we have to do it is to focus on our games."

That's not quite worked out with Colorado losing four of its last five games, including a 3-1 loss at St. Louis on Tuesday after winning the three previous season matchups.

The Avalanche have also dropped three in a row at home, and they dropped four straight there on three previous occasions this season - most recently from Feb. 2-9.

They fell behind 3-0 while falling 4-2 to league-best Washington on Friday.

"We know why we're losing," coach Patrick Roy said, alluding to turnovers. "Is it too late to fix? We'll see. All I can say to you is we've talked about it for a while, and we know we need to be better at it. You've heard me saying that many, many times."

Finding the net would also help. The Avalanche have been outscored 15-5 during the four losses over their past five games.

Iginla's goal against the Capitals snapped his 12-game drought. It also moved him within one of Bobby Hull's 610 for 16th on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list.

Iginla hasn't scored in six straight meetings with the Blues, while Matt Duchene has three points in his past four. A knee injury forced him to miss the most recent matchup, and he returned with a pointless effort Friday.

Duchene had six points in four games before sitting out six with the injury. His 29 goals are a career high, but he's only netted 10 at home.

The Blues (46-23-9) are headed back to the postseason for a fifth straight year and are trying to move closer to securing at least second place in the Central Division. They trail West-leading Dallas by four points with four games left - one more than the Stars.

St. Louis' position affords them the luxury of resting players, and coach Ken Hitchcock intends to do that with center Robby Fabbri (lower body) and defensemen Jay Bouwmeester (upper body) and Carl Gunnarsson (lower body).

"None are going to play in Colorado, but it's a good sign that they were able to participate right until the end (of practice Saturday)," Hitchcock told the team's official website.

Hitchcock is also giving goaltender Brian Elliott the night off after he was pulled after two periods in Friday's 6-5 loss to Boston. Elliott gave up five goals on 23 shots but didn't get a decision to keep his nine-game winning streak intact.

Allen allowed one goal on five shots against the Bruins after making 32 saves in a 4-0 win at Washington on March 26. He's lost three straight starts against Colorado with a 4.03 goals-against average.

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