Blues 3, Avalanche 2

Evgeny Grachev is off to an impressive start with the St. Louis

Blues.

Grachev notched his third goal in four preseason games, and Adam

Cracknell and David Backes added scores to lift the St. Louis Blues

to a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

”He’s finding a way to be effective, not only on the score

sheet, but in a number of different areas, decisions on the ice

with the puck, his defensive play,” Blues coach Davis Payne said.

”He’s come here to make a statement to our organization after

picking him up in a trade this summer and he’s doing a very good

job of it.”

Grachev, a 21-year-old Russian who was acquired from the New

York Rangers in exchange for a third-round draft pick, scored at

8:06 of the first period.

Jamie Langenbrunner backhanded a pass from behind the net to

Grachev, who was waiting on the doorstep and poked the puck past

goalie Semyon Varlamov.

The Blues added another goal at 5:02 of the third when Cracknell

wristed a shot from the center of the right circle past Varlamov.

It was the second goal of the preseason for Cracknell, who also had

the tiebreaking score in St. Louis’ 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on

Wednesday.

The Blues got an empty-netter from Backes with just over 58

seconds remaining on a shot from the blue line following a Colorado

turnover by Peter Mueller, who was playing in his first game in a

year.

He missed all of last season after suffering a head blow in an

exhibition game that brought on another concussion. Mueller also

missed the final weeks of the previous season after incurring the

initial concussion when he smashed into the boards in a game

against San Jose on April 4, 2010.

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco shrugged off Mueller’s mistake late in

the game, saying he was encouraged by Mueller’s overall play and

the fact that he was on the ice mixing it up in a game.

”I thought he’s coming along,” Sacco said. ”His game is

progressing and heading in the right direction. Once he gets up to

speed with his conditioning and his timing, I think he’ll be

fine.”

Sacco added of Mueller, ”He’s competitive. I want to get him in

situations again where he gets used to being out there when there

is a minute left and we’re down a goal, because he’s a guy that’s

going to be out there when we’re in those types of games.”

Sacco also said after the game that right wing Brandon Yip

suffered a broken forearm when he blocked a shot early in the third

period. There was no immediate word on how long Yip would be

out.

In addition, the Avalanche said that defenseman Jan Hejda would

miss two to four weeks because of a knee injury suffered in an

intrasquad game last week.

Paul Stastny scored for the Avalanche from up close 13 seconds

later, but it wasn’t enough and the Avalanche fell to 0-2 in

exhibition play. St. Louis improved to 3-1.

The Avalanche were trailing 2-0 at 12:48 of the third period

when rookie Tyson Barie ended Jake Allen’s shutout bid with a shot

from the top of the left circle that went under the goalie’s right

leg as he dropped to the ice. Barie also scored a goal in the

Avalanche’s preseason opener, a 5-2 loss in Dallas on Thursday

night.

Allen made 23 saves and Varlamov had 22.

Cody McLeod of the Avalanche and the Blues’ Ryan Reaves each

served a five-minute major for fighting after dropping their gloves

at center ice and pummeling each other with just over 11 seconds

remaining in the second period.

Chris Stewart, who starred with Colorado before being sent to

St. Louis in a midseason trade last season, did not play.