The St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche shared something in common ahead of their Sunday night matchup in Denver -- they both are coming off losses at Winnipeg.
For the Avalanche (17-43-3), losing 6-1 to the Jets on Saturday night doesn't mean much in the standings, but the Blues' setback hurt their fight for a spot in the postseason.
St. Louis has now lost five straight games and was a point out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
It's a tough position to be in for a team that started the season with hopes of a deep playoff run but has changed coaches and shipped off a top blue-liner before the trading deadline.
The deal that sent Kevin Shattenkirk to Washington wasn't a white flag, the Blues insist.
"We've got to rise to the moment," Blues coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before Friday's 3-0 loss to the Jets. "I'm not inside the locker room, but my hunch is that they're saying that this is their season right now."
The Blues (31-27-5) were riding high after a five-game winning streak in February, the first four of which came on the road. But three one-goal losses highlighted the recent slide.
St. Louis can start to turn things around at Colorado, where the Avalanche have struggled all season.
Add to the fact that they played Saturday night in Winnipeg and are playing their first home game since trading icon Jarome Iginla to Los Angeles and St. Louis is facing a struggling team playing out the string.
General manager Joe Sakic didn't trade any of the team's core players, although there was interest in Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. The fact that they could still be dealt in the offseason could weigh on their minds -- and the rest of the team -- in the final month of the season.
"I've always said they're good hockey players, but does it mean I'm not going to try to help our team long term?" Sakic told The Denver Post. "No. I'll do anything that's going to make sense for us, that we feel is going to help us for the future."
The immediate future is an attempt to reach 10 wins in an arena where the Avalanche used to play dominant hockey. Colorado is 8-20-2 at Pepsi Center, and every team it hosts in its final 11 home games is fighting for playoff positioning or just to make the playoffs.
The Blues are up first, and they are hungry for a win.
"We need to realize that we need to be desperate," backup goaltender Carter Hutton told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch after making 37 saves against Winnipeg on Friday night. "We're not in the playoffs right now and we're falling behind here, five in a row now. It's unacceptable at this time of year and any time of year, so we need to be better, that's for sure."
St. Louis would like to get back to the way it was playing in early February when it outscored teams 18-6 during a five-game span.
That was followed with scoring just six goals in the next five games, including the shutout loss at Winnipeg on Friday.
"To be honest, it's been the story the past couple of weeks here, we're scoring one goal, two goals," Alex Pietrangelo told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We're giving up one or two and we're losing games. We've got to find a way in these close games, we've got to find a way to score some goals. We've just got to get more pucks on net."
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