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MacKinnon, Duchene lead Avs shootout win over Blues, 2-1

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) On a night when the Colorado Avalanche got a rare victory, the St. Louis Blues also left as a big winner in the loss.

Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene scored shootout goals, Calvin Pickard had 27 saves through overtime and two more in the shootout and the Avalanche beat the Blues 2-1 on Friday night.

Jake Allen had 31 saves and Ryan Reaves scored for the Blues, who clinched a playoff spot by earning a point. They are 11-1-2 in their last 14 games and are heading to the final week of the season playing well - even with this setback.

"Obviously, a huge point for us getting in the playoffs," Reaves said. "Looking back at where we were a couple months ago, I think we've played a lot of good hockey."

The Blues are in the postseason for the sixth straight season and are in the hunt for a top-three finish in the Central Division, which would mean avoiding a first-round matchup against a division winner. They have 91 points, three more than fourth-place Nashville and both teams have five games remaining.

"I'm glad that we're playing big, meaningful games at this time of the year," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "Hard games force you to be at your best and it challenges us to get better as a group."

The Avalanche ended a seven-game skid with the win and put a damper on St. Louis' celebration. J.T. Compher scored in regulation and MacKinnon also had an assist.

Duchene opened the shootout with a goal, and after rookie Tyson Jost was stopped by Allen, MacKinnon ended it.

Pickard stopped Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko in the shootout to give Colorado its first win since March 15.

"It's been tough," Pickard said. "The last seven, eight games we've had good portions and we just can't find a way. It's nice to finally find a way and break the losing streak."

Reaves scored on a tip in the first period to give St. Louis the lead, and Compher tied it with a power-play goal at 11:49 of the second period.

Mikko Rantanen had a chance to give Colorado the win in overtime, but Allen made a save on his breakaway in the final minute.

NEW BEGINNING

Jost, 19, made his NHL debut after signing an entry-level contract Wednesday. He just completed his freshman season at the University of North Dakota and jumped right into the NHL.

Jost, Colorado's first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2016 draft, had 16 goals and 19 assists in 33 games for the Fighting Hawks but is the second player in the program's history to turn pro after one year. He jumped over the boards for his first shift 2:08 into the game with his mother and grandfather watching from the stands.

"Amazing, a dream come true. I know it's a cliche, but it really was," he said. "It's something I'm going to remember for a long, long time. Having my family come down and being in the crowd is pretty special."

Jost nearly had his first goal early in the third period. Allen got a glove on his shot from the left circle, and the puck just missed going inside the far post. Allen again got him in the shootout.

"I wanted to put him in a situation," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of using Jost in the shootout. "I know our fans wanted to see it, we wanted to see it. That's one of the things we can do because of where we're at in the standings."

NOTES: St. Louis D Robert Bortuzzo suffered an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return. ... Compher's goal in the second period was just Colorado's fourth on the power play in the last 23 games. ... The Blues are 18-7-2 since Yeo took over as head coach on Feb. 1.

UP NEXT

Blues: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

Avalanche: At the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.

Updated April 1, 2017

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