A successful eight-year tenure with the Colorado Avalanche helped Paul Stastny earn a hefty contract with the St. Louis Blues.
While there’s a possibility Stastny could come off injured reserve to face his former team for the first time, it’s also uncertain whether two key teammates will be available as the Blues try for a fourth straight victory Saturday night against the visiting Avalanche.
During his time with Colorado, Stastny recorded 160 goals, had 298 assists and helped the Avalanche win their first division title in 10 seasons in 2013-14. Two months after Colorado was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Stastny signed a four-year, $28 million deal with St. Louis.
"His first choice was to be in Colorado," Stastny’s agent, Matt Keator, told the NHL’s official website in July. "Colorado was great to deal with, but we just couldn’t match up on a deal that made sense for both sides.
"When we turned our attention to the open market, it just more and more seemed St. Louis was the best fit and made the most sense."
Stastny, who grew up in the St. Louis area, had a goal with three assists in four games before missing the last five with a shoulder injury. After he took part in Tuesday’s morning skate prior to a 4-3 overtime win at Dallas, it was reported that the team hoped Stastny can return as early as Saturday.
The immediate outlook might not be as good for David Backes and T.J. Oshie, who both could miss a second straight game after suffering concussions against the Stars. Oshie also appears to be suffering from a bacterial infection that sidelined fellow forward Joakim Lindstrom on Thursday.
"Every team goes through (injuries), and we’re no different," forward Alexander Steen said. "We’re going through it right now and we’re doing our best to continue to move forward and play the style of game that we want to play."
St. Louis (5-3-1) continued its surge with a 2-0 victory over Anaheim on Thursday as backup Jake Allen made 24 saves and Steen scored his second goal of the season.
"We’re doing our best to keep the train moving forward and then start getting guys back when they feel healthy," Steen said.
Steen had three goals in three games versus Colorado (3-4-4) in 2013-14, when the Blues won the first three meetings before losing 4-0 at home April 5.
It’s uncertain if anything will spill over to this meeting after St. Louis recorded 91 minutes in penalties in the third period alone of that contest, finishing with seven players on the bench. Colorado coach Patrick Roy called Backes "gutless" for wrestling Nathan MacKinnon to the ice during a late confrontation.
Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves in that matchup to snap his four-game losing streak versus St. Louis.
Varlamov recorded his first shutout since blanking the Blues as he stopped 40 shots in Thursday’s 5-0 victory over the New York Islanders.
"He’s one of the best, if not the best, in the game right now," Roy said of Varlamov, who is 2-0-3 with a .947 save percentage in his last five starts.
MacKinnon scored his first two goals Thursday after recording 24 en route to winning the Calder Trophy last season.
"I figured (a goal) would come sooner or later," the 19-year-old center said. "Obviously, a little later than I wanted, but it’s all in the past now."
MacKinnon had two goals with an assist versus St. Louis in 2013-14.