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Halak stops 24 shots, Blues beat Avalanche 4-1

 

DENVER (AP) -- Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves, David Backes had a goal and an assist and the streaking St. Louis Blues beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Alexander Steen scored his 20th of the season and Jaden Schwartz also had a goal for the Blues, who have won five straight.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 shots and Patrick Bordeleau scored for the Avalanche, who had won three straight.

Colorado's 17-5-0 start was a franchise best this deep into the season, but the Blues have been the better team lately. They have won 10 of 12 and earned points in 11 of those games.

One of their wins in that stretch was a 7-3 victory over Colorado on Nov. 14, which was in the middle of a three-game skid for the Avalanche.

The Blues dominated that game from the start of the second period, and that continued Wednesday.

The Blues had the first seven shots, and goals by Backes and Steen in the first 6:10 of the game gave them a quick two-goal lead. Backes scored when he redirected T.J. Oshie's pass on a rush 2:46 into the first period. Steen made it 2-0 with a power-play goal, which tied him with Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in the NHL this season.

After being outshot 9-1 to that point, Colorado pushed back and got on the board when Bordeleau stuffed in a rebound midway through the first. The Avalanche had several chances to tie it, but Schwartz's short-handed goal with 1:48 left in the period made it 3-1 and stopped Colorado's momentum.

The Avalanche failed to mount a comeback in the final two periods. They were held to 14 shots in the last 40 minutes, with four coming in the final 5 minutes of the game. They had two on a power play and two more after pulling Varlamov for an extra skater, but former teammate Chris Stewart sealed it with an empty-net goal with 1:44 left.

NOTES: Blues C Derek Roy had two assists. ... Avalanche C Paul Stastny missed the game due to back spasms. ... Steen has 99 goals as a member of the Blues. ... St. Louis' short-handed goal was its first of the season. It also was the first short-handed goal allowed by Colorado this season.

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