Byram scores twice to help Avalanche beat Blues 4-1
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Bowen Byram scored twice and Mikko Rantanen scored his 200th NHL goal to help the Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 Saturday and remain in third place in the Central Division.
Valeri Nichuskin also scored, and Justus Annunen stopped 19 shots in his season debut to give Colorado its third win in four games.
“I thought he was steady,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of Annunen, who appeared in his third NHL game. “Good outing from him. He didn’t have a lot of work, but made some saves look easy.”
Sammy Blais scored for St. Louis, and Jordan Binnington made 29 saves as the Blues snapped a three-game winning streak less than 24 hours after trading centers Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I don’t know if it was tough to get up for,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “It was just a lot of emotion from last night. The trade happened so late.”
Byram recorded his first career multigoal game when he one-timed a feed from Samuel Girard on a power play for his fifth goal of the season to give Colorado a 4-1 lead 9:40 into the third period.
“It’s part of what our identity is,” Bednar said. “Our D have always been active participants in our offense. Bo’s obviously missed some time, but getting back up to speed, we’re starting to see him contribute a little bit more.”
Nichuskin scored his ninth goal of the season on a power play 2:56 into the third period to restore Colorado’s two-goal lead.
The Avalanche converted on both of their power plays in the third period after starting the game 0 for 2.
“It’s been stale a little bit here recently, Bednar said. “I think it’s trying to be too cute and looking for the perfect play. We just encouraged them after the second to shoot the puck, make sure your work ethic and competitiveness is where it needs to be and just getting more competitive, more simple, shoot it and go to the net.”
Blais scored his second goal of the season with 4:32 remaining in the second period to narrow St. Louis’ deficit to 2-1.
“We got one there to make it a one-goal game,” Blues defenseman Justin Faulk said. “We had an opportunity going into the third period to put some pressure on. I took a penalty, and they scored and put us on our heels a little bit. We probably were a little bit on the outside too much and didn’t test the goalie as much as we’d have liked to.”
Byram scored his first goal on a pass from Rantanen 7:27 into the second period to stretch Colorado’s lead to 2-0.
Rantanen scored his team-leading 35th of the season and 200th of his career with 3:23 remaining in the first period to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
Avalanche D Josh Manson was scratched with the team playing Sunday against Edmonton as the team’s medical staff looks to avoid having him play in back-to-back games coming off a lower-body injury. … Avalanche D Cale Makar returned to the lineup after missing four games with a concussion. ... Blues F Pavel Buchnevich left the game with a lower-body injury. Berube said he will not accompany the team to Ottawa.
Annunen became the 40th player to suit up for Colorado this season, breaking last season’s record of 39. Annunen was recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League with goaltender Pavel Francouz expected to miss about three weeks with a lower-body injury.
Prior to the game the Blues recalled forwards Nikita Alexandrov and Matthew Highmore from Springfield of the AHL to fill the roster spots of recently traded O’Reilly and Acciari. Both are expected to join the team Sunday in Ottawa.
Avalanche: Hosts Edmonton on Sunday.
Blues: Visit Ottawa on Sunday to open a two-game trip.
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