Blues 3, Avalanche 2
Evgeny Grachev is off to an impressive start with the St. Louis
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
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
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
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
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
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.