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Avs extend Blues' winless streak to 13 games

DENVER (AP) -- Joe Sakic had a historic goal, a flukey assist and
a spectacular save in Colorado's 4-2 victory over St. Louis on
Saturday that extended the Blues' winless streak to 13 games.

Sakic moved into a 17th-place tie on the career goals list and
got the assist on Milan Hedjuk's empty-netter off a clearing pass
in the closing seconds, two plays that helped the Avs avoid a third
loss in four games, which would have jeopardized their playoff
aspirations.

"Those are the tough teams to play," Avs forward Dan Hinote
said. "The non-playoff teams are very dangerous. We know not to
take teams like this for granted. They still have an effect on
you."

Before beating back the Blues, the Avalanche's slump had left
Colorado just three points ahead of ninth-place Vancouver in the
Western Conference.

Trailing 1-0 after one period, Colorado began its recovery with
a second-period goal from Sakic, his 31st of the season and 573rd
of his career, tying Mike Bossy for 17th place.

"Joe really loosened us up," said Hinote, who added a
third-period goal. "We were a bit tight. Joe has been carrying us
on his back for the last two or three months. He's been phenomenal.
We needed a goal, he went down and did what he always does and
popped it in for us."

The Avs put the puck in the net twice early in the third period,
rejuvenating a Pepsi Center crowd that had sat in silence as the
scrappy Blues (0-10-3 since March 23) controlled the ice early on.

Ian Laperriere deflected Kurt Sauer's shot from the slot past
goalie Jason Bacashihua to break a 1-1 tie at 17:48 of the third
period, and Dan Hinote made it 3-1 four minutes later when he took
Cody McCormick's pass from the left circle and tapped it in from
the crease.

"Every team at this point is dangerous," Laperriere said.
"They want to earn jobs for next year. They played us hard for
almost two periods. That's why they led for so long."

At this time of year, there are simply no gimmes.

"They have the young kids and they have a lot to prove and they
are trying to earn spots for next year," Sakic said. "They are
loose and they are dangerous."

And he'd like to think the Avs are now, too. But he knows that's
not going to happen until they clinch an entry to the postseason
party.

"We have to worry about a playoff spot," Sakic said. "We've
had a pretty good year, got a lot of wins. The way the game is
being played now, especially with the shootouts, a lot of the teams
out west are good teams. It makes for an exciting race."

Keith Tkachuk's goal for St. Louis at 18:53 made for an
interesting finish. Hejduk scored an empty-netter with 31 seconds
left, sending St. Louis dejectedly off the ice yet again.

"The easiest thing to do is get down, we just have to keep
supporting one another," Blues coach Mike Kitchen said.

The Blues took a 1-0 lead on Kevin Dallman's power play goal at
16:52 of the first period. Sakic tied it when he skated into the
slot and fired a wrist shot past Bacashihua's glove at 16:30 of the
second period, extending his points-scoring streak to 12 games.

Peter Budaj (14-10-6) got the win in his 13th straight start,
earning himself one more before goaltender-in-waiting Jose Theodore
makes his Colorado debut Tuesday night against Phoenix.

"Peter will start tomorrow. Jose will dress as the backup,"
Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. "We will take it day-by-day, but
I would anticipate Jose starting on Tuesday. I thought Peter had a
strong game the other night against San Jose, and he was strong
tonight, too."

Colorado acquired Theodore from Montreal last month but he
hasn't played since Jan. 31, when he was pulled from a game against
Carolina. After losing his starting job to Cristobal Huet, Theodore
broke his right heel Feb. 16 when he slipped on icy steps outside
his home in Montreal and was shipped to Colorado for David
Aebischer on March 8.

"We're excited to get him in the pipes," Sakic said.

Game notes
Avs LW Alex Tanguay (knee) took part in non-contact drills
Friday and might be able to play next week. He's been out since
March 19. ... Sakic has nine goals and 14 assists in his 12-game
point-scoring streak, which is two games shy of his career high.