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St. Louis Blues rough up Colorado Avalance, 5-1

By
Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
St. Louis Blues Dmitrij Jaskin of Russia (R) congratulates Robby Fabbri on his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on November 6, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
St. Louis Blues Dmitrij Jaskin of Russia (R) congratulates Robby Fabbri on his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on November 6, 2016. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- Left winger Robby Fabbri's relief was obvious.

Playing his 13th game of the season and still looking for his first goal, Fabbri didn't have to wait long on Sunday -- just 1:37 -- before he finally could celebrate that tally.

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It was followed less than two minutes later before center Jori Lehtera's first goal of the season, and the two quick goals sent the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Fabbri had not been the only player on the Blues in a scoring slump. The team came into Sunday's game having scored two goals or fewer in six consecutive games, and in eight of their previous nine games. The goals by Fabbri and Lehtera were the first by the Blues in the first period in seven games.

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"It felt like it was my first goal I got last year (as a rookie)," Fabbri said. "It got the weight off the shoulders. Now we've just to build off that and keep going. We were a little bit snake bit, but the biggest thing was just getting back to the systems and playing the way we were playing last year, and we see the success when everyone is buying in."

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The two quick goals inspired the Blues to play what coach Ken Hitchcock called their best period of the season as they won consecutive games for the first time since opening the year with a three-game winning streak.

"Our puck pursuit, our tenacity, our secondary forecheck was excellent," Hitchcock said. "It looked like a team that was right on the mark. We did a lot of things that when you're drawing up the game plan that's exactly what you want. I was really happy with the way we played."

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Hitchcock knows getting offensive contributions from players such as Fabbri and Lehtera, who was playing his ninth game, can only help ease the pressure on the rest of the team.

"For a lot of guys personally, it's monkeys off their back," Hitchcock said. "You want to see value and a reward for all of the work they put in and they were working. It was good to see that."

After the Avalanche cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal by right winger Matt Duchene early in the second period, the Blues responded with a three-goal flurry in the final 5:06 of the period to put the game away.

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Left winger Jaden Schwartz scored the Blues' first power-play goal in six games before left wingers Scottie Upshall and David Perron capped off the outburst.

The goal scored by Schwartz originally was credited to right winger Alexander Steen, which would have been the 200th of his career, but it was changed after it was ruled that Schwartz had deflected the puck. Steen also thought he had scored the milestone goal on Thursday night in Dallas, but saw it taken away then because of goalie interference after a coaches' challenge.

The offensive fireworks made it an easier night for goalie Jake Allen, who had a strong bounce-back game, stopping 22 of 23 shots, after he had allowed nine goals in consecutive regulation losses last week on the road against the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars.

"The story of the weekend is the goalies," said Hitchcock, noting backup Carter Hutton's 2-1 overtime win Saturday night over Columbus. "Allen, like our team, got spanked on the road. He became a reflection of what we did, but to gather it back in and play the way he did today was impressive."

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Colorado coach Jared Bednar, whose team has scored three goals in the last four games, was not surprised to see Allen play well. Bednar coached him one season in the minor leagues in Peoria, Ill.

"He was a top prospect when we had him and he came in as a rookie and played extremely well for us and competed in net with Ben Bishop," Bednar said. "They were splitting starts, that was how good he was even as a rookie. Everyone kind of knew if he continued to develop down the path the hard-working kid that he was, he was going to have success."

Bednar's own goalie, Semyon Varlamov, is not having success. He fell to 2-6 in his eight games this season, allowing five goals on 25 shots, before he was pulled from the game after the second period and replaced by Calvin Pickard.

"We scored only one goal," said Varlamov, who has allowed 28 goals this season. "I gave up five goals. I'll take responsibility about today's loss."

The Blues apparently lost defenseman Joel Edmundson to an upper-body injury when he was checked into the boards early in the game. Hitchcock said more would be known about Edmundson's status on Tuesday but he expected it will be longer than day-to-day.

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NOTES: Colorado coach Jared Bednar spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons behind the bench of the Blues' top farm team, the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League. Current Blues who played for Bednar on those teams were G Jake Allen and RW Ryan Reaves. ... RW Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row as the Blues kept their lineup intact from Saturday night's 2-1 overtime win over Columbus. ... Avalanche RW Jarome Iginla played in the 1,485th game of his career, moving into 18th place for most played, one ahead of Rod Brind'Amour. ... The Avalanche return home to play Anaheim on Tuesday night while the next game for the Blues is on Wednesday night, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

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