ST. LOUIS — It was a tough Thursday night at Scottrade Center for the Colorado Avalanche, who lost 7-3 to the St. Louis Blues and also lost all three fights in the second period.
Their goalies couldn't stop shots. Their fighters were struggling and their 14-3 record seemed to matter little against a hungry Blues team intent on making a statement in the first of four games in this new Central Division rivalry.
In the second period alone, the Blues (12-2-3) scored four goals and seemed to win all three fights before a crowd of only 14,190 that was treated to some rollicking action.
"They've got a great record, they've been playing well," said winger T.J Oshie, who became the first Blues player with four assists in a game since 2008. "It was just our night. ... We're going to have more battles with them."
That is an extremely likely scenario, judging from the comments coming from the Avalanche dressing room after the loss.
Colorado seemed to take issue with former Avalanche winger Chris Stewart waving his arms to pump up the crowd following his second-period fight with Cory Sarich.
Stewart picked up an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct along with his fighting penalty.
"It's a little gutless by him, but it's an emotional game and these things will happen," Avalanche goaltender J.S. Giguere told Colorado reporters. "At the end of the day, this is not why we lost the game."
Colorado coach Patrick Roy echoed those same sentiments.
"You know, we lost the first game with them, but we're going to see them again and let's make sure we're ready when we do," Roy said.
The Blues seemed to be happy to let someone else do the talking following one of their best efforts of the young season.
"They've played good hockey for a month and a half now and they're a force to be reckoned with," Blues captain David Backes said of the Avalanche. "We had a see-saw first period and found our game maybe a little bit before they found theirs, and really had a textbook second period for us."
Even after his team scored seven goals, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was quick to point out all that offense came from strong defense.
"Our checking caused them to take penalties, (our) checking created turnovers," he said. "When we did that, it created the tempo in our game that we wanted. When we dialed up our checking, (it) really had an impact in the game."
* The Blues 12 wins in the first 17 games is a franchise record and they are 4-0-1 in their last five games. Their three power-play goals were the most since scoring four in the 2012-13 season opener against the Red Wings.
* The Carolina Hurricanes are at Scottrade Center on Saturday night as the Blues close out a five-game homestand.