Blues buried by Avalanche; game gets ugly in final minutes

News-DemocratApril 5, 2014 

— Facing a potential playoff opponent Saturday did little to create much urgency for the St. Louis Blues.

They were rocked for three goals in the second period by the Colorado Avalanche, who posted a 4-0 victory over their Central Division rivals and won their sixth straight game.

"I think we went silent tonight," said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, whose team was shut out for the fifth time this season and third time in the previous nine games. "They were playing us hard, they came at us with the fight that they wanted the two points."

With five games remaining, the Blues (52-18-7; 111 points) are two points behind NHL overall leader Boston. They also lead the Central Division by five points over Colorado (50-21-6; 106 points) heading into Sunday's game at Chicago.

Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov tied coach Patrick Roy's franchise record for wins in a season (40) with his second shutout.

Colorado, which had lost three straight to the Blues this season, got a goal and two assists from Paul Stastny and a goal and assist from Nathan MacKinnon.

"They're a young, fast, hard team," Jackman said. "A few years ago we both struggled together and we're coming back. Last year they started turning things around and this year they've emerged as a powerhouse.

"That's a huge rival for us now and someone we're going to butt heads with down the road."

Speaking of butting heads, the Blues and Avalanche combined for 168 penalty minutes --including 91 by the Blues in the third period alone.

There also were 12 misconduct penalties handed out in the third period, including a game misconduct and five-minute major to Blues forward Brenden Morrow for cross-checking John Mitchell,

A high elbow hit by Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau that drew blood on Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk with 12:01 remaining seemed to spark everything that followed.

The Blues tried to retaliate against Bordeleau, who was chased by Shattenkirk with Blues trainer Ray Barile clinging to the back of Shattenkirk's jersey.

Bordeleau's hit was viewed different by both teams.

"Shattenkirk hurt himself with his own stick," Roy said. "His own stick hit him in the nose and then he was bleeding. He made a pretty big act...it was the right call by the referees by the way."

And the view from Blues coach Ken Hitchcock?

"The league will deal with Bordeleau, so whatever," Hitchcock said. "Whether he left the feet...they'll go over all their stuff and decide what they're going to do. Down the line we'll answer Bordeleau...it's all the debris around the game.

"He'll have to fight somebody and we'll get rid of that debris, or if we feel he went after Shatty then there will be a response from us on their defenseman. It's just a part of the culture."

With 5:17 remaining, emotions boiled over again after Blues captain David Backes dropped his gloves and wrestled MacKinnon to the ice.

Backes received a 10-minute misconduct penalty while MacKinnon left the ice and headed for the dressing room.

"To me it's gutless from Backes, it shows what kind of leader he is," Roy said. "If you're going after an 18-year-old and he could go after Talbot in the first...not very impressed. Gutless in my opinion."

Hitchcock wanted no part of engaging the colorful Roy, in his first NHL season as a head coach after a Hall of Fame career as a goalie.

"I've done my commenting on him so he can say whatever he wants," Hitchcock said. "He always has something to say after every game."

Backes said "He's entitled to his opinion. That's OK."

So what happened regarding MacKinnon?

"Their player (Bordeleau), who he is, going after Shatty, who he is. On the power play with a three goal lead there's some liberties I feel like," Backes said. "I dropped my gloves and never threw a punch and ended up with whatever many penalty minutes out of the ordeal."

Hitchcock was asked why Blues enforcer Ryan Reaves wasn't sent out after things boiled over.

"The thing I should have done is probably put Reavo out there and made for an even bigger explosion," Hitchcock said. "That, looking back, is probably one thing I could have done, but that's not the issue. The issue is that we didn't score any goals."

Hitchcock also feared a potential suspension.

"I knew there was going to be something dramatic," Hitchcock said, "It could have been very ugly."

Colorado began the second period with a power play thanks to a double-minor on Vladimir Sobotka and quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead.

Stastny scored his 22nd goal on a rebound 1:14 into the period and has 11 goals and 30 points in 24 games against the Blues.

MacKinnon collected his 24th goal just over five minutes later, blasting home a long rebound off an original shot by Jamie McGinn.

The Avs' third goal of the second period was reviewed since replays showed it going in off the skate of Colorado's Nick Holden. However, officials ruled the puck hit the stick of Blues forward Steve Ott before going in, thus making it a good goal.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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