ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Patrick Roy's understudy handled the St. Louis
Backup goalie David Aebischer made 30 saves, almost half of them
in the third period, as the Colorado Avalanche won 4-2 Sunday night
to move into second place in the Western Conference.
"He deserves to play," coach Bob Hartley said. "He's learning
and he gets some good tests against the good teams. It's an
investment for the future for him, and at the same time for the
Joe Sakic had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who
clinched their eighth straight Northwest Division championship when
the Kings beat the Oilers in overtime Saturday night. Hence, Roy's
Hartley said Aebischer, who is 12-6 and has played in 20 games,
will get one more start in Colorado's last three games before the
"It's always good to win," Aebischer said. "I just try to
stay sharp and play good and give the team a chance to win in every
game I play."
Radim Vrbata, Riku Hahl and Greg DeVries also scored for
Colorado, which took three of four from the Blues in the season
The Avalanche won despite getting outshot 32-16, including 15-2
in the third period.
Al MacInnis' 11th goal on the power play, a slap shot from the
right circle, cut the gap to one at 16:25 of the third but Sakic
got an empty-net goal with one second to go.
Keith Tkachuk also scored for the Blues, who faltered without
starting goalie Brent Johnson despite taking the early lead against
Aebischer, making his first start since March 17. Johnson is
sidelined with a sore right hip flexor.
St. Louis backup Fred Brathwaite made his first start since Feb.
28 and gave up three goals on 11 shots before getting yanked for
minor-league call-up Reinhard Divis midway through the second
"I have to be making those saves," Brathwaite said. "You
know, it's been a little while since I've been in the net. I'm a
Johnson, who had made 17 consecutive starts, was listed as
day-to-day. He attempted to skate Sunday morning, two days after he
was hurt in the Blues' 5-1 victory over the Blackhawks, but didn't
stay on the ice long.
"I feel all right, just a little nagging problem," Johnson
said. "It'll get better soon."
The Blues also were without captain Chris Pronger, serving the
second game of a two-game suspension for cross-checking the Stars'
Brenden Morrow on Wednesday.
The Blues entered the game sixth in the tight Western Conference
standings, one point behind the Kings and Blackhawks, one point
ahead of the Coyotes and only four ahead of the Stars and Canucks --
who were tied for ninth.
The Blues have four games to go, three at home.
Tkachuk scored his 37th goal, and third in two games, on a
rebound on a power play at 11:16 of the first period. He connected
on a rebound shot while on the way down after Scott Young hit the
goal post on a one-timer.
The Avalanche were outshot 9-3 in the first period, but Vrbata
tied it on the fourth shot. A Blues turnover led to a break-in and
Vrbata got his 18th goal at 4:53 of the second.
Colorado took the lead on a soft goal, a slapper from near the
center red line by Hahl at 9:08 that trickled between Brathwaite's
pads and then slowly slid across the goal line as the goalie
flailed at it too late.
DeVries made it 3-1 on another long shot, getting his eighth
goal from just inside the blue line during a power play at 13:54 to
Roy had made eight consecutive starts before getting the
night off. Roy has a career-best nine shutouts. ... Missouri
basketball coach Quin Snyder and his wife, Helen, watched the first
period from front-row seats and watched the rest of the game from
the private box of Blues owner Bill Laurie -- also a big Missouri
booster. ... Tkachuk has 44 of his 71 points at home. ... The
Avalanche also beat the Blues 3-2 in St. Louis March 11. ... Alex
Tanguay had two assists, giving him two goals and four assists in
the last four games. ... The Avalanche are unbeaten when leading
after two periods, going 33-0-1.