Avalanche defeated by Blues in Central Division showdown
AP Monday, March 10, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
DENVER -- Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots, and David Backes broke open a tight game as the St. Louis Blues beat the surging Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Saturday in a NHL Central Division showdown.
Patrik Berglund added a pivotal insurance goal early in the third period as the Blues won their fourth straight.
Colorado finally beat Miller midway through the final period when P.A. Parenteau lifted a shot over him while he was trying for his first shutout in nearly two years.
Miller withstood a furious rally by the Avalanche in the final two minutes after they pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov as the division-leading Blues pulled five points ahead of Colorado.
Earlier, St. Louis made it 1-0 at 7:03 of the second period on a play set up by a long pass from defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to T.J. Oshie, who, as he was falling down, slid the puck to Backes. From there, Backes guided the puck past Varlamov's left skate.
Berglund gave St. Louis a 2-0 cushion at 3:53 of the final period when he gobbled up the puck down low, spun and lined it over the glove of Varlamov.
This was a frustrating afternoon for the Avalanche as their four-game winning streak was halted. Early on, they couldn't sneak anything past Miller, even hitting the post twice. They also lost one of their top offensive players when Paul Stastny went out with a back injury after his opening shift.
At Tampa Bay, Reilly Smith scored the lone shootout goal in the seventh round to lead the Boston Bruins past the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3.
Smith put an in-close shot between the pads of Ben Bishop. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask caught a break on Tampa Bay's seventh shootout attempt when Richard Panik hit the post.
The Bruins got regulation goals from Daniel Paille, Carl Soderberg and Johnny Boychuk.
Ondrej Palat, Mark Barberio and Valtteri Filppula scored for the Lightning.
Tuomo Ruutu scored late in the third period against his former team to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes after squandering a three-goal lead.
Red-hot Adam Henrique added two more goals, and Travis Zajac and Damien Brunner had the others as the usually defensive-minded Devils had another lax game in their own end.
Jeff Skinner, Jay Harrison, Nathan Gerbe and Alexander Semin scored for Carolina, which has lost seven of eight. Gerbe and Semin tallied in the third period to make it 4-4.
Joffrey Lupul scored 2:21 into overtime for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who squandered a third-period lead but bounced back to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3, while Artem Anisimov scored with 6:25 remaining in the third period to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.
In other games Saturday, the Ottawa Senators outscored the Winnipeg Jets 5-3, the Washington Capitals beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 and the Dallas Stars rallied to defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-3.
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