Blues fall to Avalanche 4-2

Monday, April 8, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Backup goalie David Aebischer made 30 saves as the Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 Sunday night to move into second place overall in the Western Conference.

Joe Sakic had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who clinched their eighth straight Northwest Division championship when the Kings beat the Oilers in overtime Saturday night.

Radim Vrbata, Riku Hahl and Greg DeVries also scored for Colorado, which took three of four from the Blues in the season series.

The Avalanche won despite getting outshot 32-16, including 15-2 in the third period.

Al MacInnis' 11th goal on the power play, a slap shot from the right circle, cut the gap to one at 16:25 of the third but Sakic got an empty-net goal with one second to go.

Keith Tkachuk also scored for the Blues, who faltered without starting goalie Brent Johnson despite taking the early lead against Aebischer, making his first start since March 17. Johnson is sidelined with a sore hip flexor.

St. Louis backup Fred Brathwaite made his first start since Feb. 28 and gave up three goals on 11 shots before getting yanked for minor-league call-up Reinhard Divis midway through the second period.

Johnson, who had made 17 consecutive starts, was listed as day-to-day. He attempted to skate Sunday morning, two days after he was hurt in the Blues' 5-1 victory over the Blackhawks, but didn't stay on the ice long.

The Blues also were without captain Chris Pronger, serving the second game of a two-game suspension for cross-checking the Stars' Brenden Morrow on Wednesday.

The Blues entered the game sixth in the tight Western Conference standings, one point behind the Kings and Blackhawks, one point ahead of the Coyotes and only four ahead of the Stars and Canucks -- who were tied for ninth.

The Blues have four games to go, three at home, and the Avalanche have three games remaining.

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