Burakovsky scores 2, Avs beat Blues to clinch playoff berth
By WARREN MAYES
ST. LOUIS (AP) Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Brandon Saad and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added goals as the Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff berth with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
"It shows a lot of team character," Burakovsky said. "We're not making a lot of mistakes. We're chipping in when we need to. We're working down low and we're successful that way. Any time you put your skates on you have to come out and compete."
Colorado improved to 18-1-2 in its last 21 games. The Avalanche are 8-1-0 in April after finishing a league-best 12-2-3 in March, setting franchise records for wins and points in a month. The Avalanche are 5-1-0 against the Blues this season.
"We played a real disciplined game today," Burakovsky said. "That may be why we won the game."
The Avalanche returned to the ice for the first time since April 14, when they beat the Blues 4-3. They had three games postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
"It was a real good game for us for being the first one back," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "Pretty happy to get that result. It was a hard-fought, close hockey game. A good all-around effort. I'm pretty happy with it."
Since March 5, the Blues have posted a 5-11-4 record. The fifth-place Blues are one point behind the Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the West Division. Arizona has played three more games.
Colorado goalie Devan Dubnyk recorded 23 saves. Dubnyk arrived in a trade with the San Jose Sharks before the NHL deadline. Dubnyk has won three of his last four starts against the Blues, dating to his time with the Sharks.
Jaden Schwartz scored both goals for St. Louis. Jordan Binnington had 25 saves.
Burakovsky gave Colorado a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 6:45 of the second period. After the puck bounced off the boards, Burakovsky tapped in the puck past Binnington, Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon each assisted. MacKinnon extended his point streak to 12 games and has the longest active streak in the NHL.
"He was skating hard right out of the gate," Bednar said about Burakovsky. "It looked like he had great legs. He was hungry on the forecheck. I just thought he came out with the work ethic that that MacKinnon line demands in skating and being tenacious on pucks. It was a real good effort by him in his first game on that line."
Burakovsky added his second goal, the eventual winner, at 11:29 of the third period, scoring from the right faceoff circle.
"That goal by them there in the third period was a tough one to give up," Schwartz said. "This was not the result we wanted today. We've got to regroup and look at some stuff."
The Blues cut the lead to 3-2 when Schwartz scored at 13:43.
The Avalanche added an empty net goal by Bellemare at 18:29.
Each team scored in the first period.
The Blues took a 1-0 on a power-play goal by Schwartz at 3:18. Schwartz one-timed the puck by Dubnyk for his first goal in 18 games.
A turnover by Zach Sanford that Colorado cashed in at 19:28 tied the game 1-1. Saad got a pass in the slot while standing alone and scored on a backhand shot from in front.
"We have a lot of veterans on this team that have won and have won a championship and we've got to have more composure in our game. That's the bottom line," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "Things are going to happen out there that are out of your control, but we're not controlling what we can control. The mistakes we make that get put in our net, that's all on us. That's on us.
BACK ON THE ICE
G Philipp Grubauer, RW Joonas Donskoi, who has 15 goals, and RW Mikko Rantanen, who ranks second in the NHL with 26 goals, are on the COVID-19 protocol list. D Bowen Byram has exited protocol and rejoined the club.
St. Louis F Robert Thomas (upper-body injury) remained out and has missed four games since he got hurt April 9 against Minnesota. He did take part in the morning skate and is expected to play Saturday.
Bednar coached his 360th game with Avalanche, passing Bob Hartley for most in Colorado history. He is second to Quebec's Michel Bergeron (634) in franchise history.
After being reacquired by Colorado on April 9, D Patrik Nemeth made his season debut with the Avalanche. Nemeth missed the team's past three contests while recovering from a minor upper-body injury. Colorado sent its fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft to the Red Wings for Nemeth before the trade deadline.
Colorado D Conor Timmins (recalled from AHL) returned to the active roster. He had been sent down April 15.
The Avalanche and Blues meet again Saturday afternoon.
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Updated April 22, 2021