Blues beat Avalanche 3-1, keep pace with Stars atop Central
ST. LOUIS (AP) Brian Elliott could not believe his ears.
The St. Louis goalie received a standing ovation after giving up a goal late in the first period of the Blues' 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
The goal snapped a franchise-record scoreless string of 258 minutes and 29 seconds.
''That's our fans,'' Elliott said. ''They recognize that we played five hard games and they appreciate the work we put in.''
Still, Elliott was not used to hearing cheers after giving up a goal at home.
''That doesn't happen often,'' he said.
Elliott made 20 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 36th goal to lift the Blues to their fifth straight victory.
David Backes and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Blues, who are tied with Dallas atop the Central Division after the Stars beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 Tuesday night. Both teams sport identical 46-22-9 records with five games left in the regular season.
Colorado has lost three of four and trails Minnesota by five points in the battle for the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have five games left.
Elliott and Jake Allen had combined for four successive shutouts coming into the contest. Before Tuesday, the Blues last gave up a goal on March 16 in Edmonton.
''It's almost like the pressure is off now,'' Elliott said. ''You let in a goal and you move on from the streak and try to start a new one.''
Colorado center Mikhail Grigorenko ended the run and also stopped Elliott's personal scoreless string at 198:12. Elliott stopped 74 consecutive shots before Grigorenko's goal.
Elliott held the Avalanche off the board down the stretch. Colorado pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov for an extra attacker with just under 5 minutes left in the third period.
Alexander Steen assisted on power-play goals in each of the first two periods. Steen had missed the previous 15 games with a shoulder injury.
He set up the go-ahead goal with a long stretch pass to Paul Stastny, who fed Brouwer to set up a 2-on-1. Brouwer converted for his 16th goal at 9:30 of the second period to break a 1-1 tie.
''It was a good start, I felt fine,'' said Steen, who logged 13:02 of playing time.
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock was impressed with Steen's ability to fit right back into the lineup.
''For a first game back, he did what he does,'' Hitchcock sad. ''He's a dependable guy. It was a good sign for us.''
Tarasenko scored just under 3 minutes after Brouwer's goal to push the lead to 3-1.
Varlamov made 24 saves.
The Avalanche had won all three previous games between the teams this season but came up short.
''We were not perfect,'' Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. ''We took two unnecessary penalties. But this is a special group that never gives up and they kept pushing.''
Colorado defenseman Chris Bigras said the loss was a tough one to swallow.
''At this point, this was a two-point game and we didn't get it done,'' Bigras said. ''That's disappointing.''
NOTES: The most recent goal scored on St. Louis before this one was an empty-net tally in Edmonton on March 16. ... St. Louis D Jay Bouwmeester missed his third straight game with concussion-like symptoms. Bouwmeester missed four games in January with a concussion. ... Colorado LW Gabriel Landeskog has 99 career NHL goals. ... The two top scorers for the Avalanche - Matt Duchene (29 goals) and Nathan MacKinnon (21 goals) - both missed the game with knee injuries.