DENVER – John-Michael Liles punched in a couple of rare goals and Matt Duchene landed the haymakers.
Both got the crowd and the Colorado Avalanche going in a 6-3 win over the struggling St. Louis Blues on Monday night.
Not known as a goal scorer, Liles had two in the first period to ignite the Avalanche.
Hardly known as a fighter, Duchene traded punches with Vladimir Sobotka in the third period and then smiled as he sat in the penalty box, his picture flashing across the big screen.
“I haven’t been scoring with my hands too much, might as well do something else with them,” Duchene said, laughing.
Duchene’s skirmish drew the loudest cheers of the evening, despite all the goal scoring. He said that Sobotka asked him if he wanted to drop the gloves and Duchene gladly obliged in this chippy contest.
“He’s strong,” said Duchene, who admitted he hadn’t been in a fight since juniors. “It was tough to get a hold of him, his jersey kept coming up.”
Duchene’s late-game scuffle didn’t completely overshadow the offensive production by Liles, who had his first multi-goal game since 2006.
“I’m just happy to chip in on the score sheet,” Liles said. “When the points happen, they happen. It’s kind of just trying to jump in, use my legs and help the forwards out.”
The Avalanche forwards were in fine form as Colorado beat the Blues for a fifth straight time.
Brandon Yip and David Jones scored 17 seconds apart in the second period. Paul Stastny and Kevin Porter also added goals.
If that wasn’t enough production, fellow forwards Milan Hejduk and Chris Stewart each had two assists.
“There was a lot of energy coming off the bench and we just took advantage of our chances,” Stastny said.
Alexander Steen scored 54 seconds in, Carlo Colaiacovo added a goal, and Brad Boyes had one on a power play, but St. Louis lost its fourth straight.
“We weren’t going to go 82-0,” Steen said. “It seems that every time we got one they got one going the other way. This is a tough one to swallow.”
Peter Budaj bested Jaroslav Halak, who came in allowing 1.79 goals a game but surrendered a season-high six.
The two goalies were teammates for Slovakia at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, lifting the squad to a fourth-place finish.
“He’s playing well this year,” said Budaj, who had 27 saves. “I think our team was a little more hungry, especially in the first and second periods. We were playing a little more on the edge.”
Budaj started his ninth straight game filling in for Craig Anderson, who has been out since hurting his knee in pre-game warmups on Oct. 26. Anderson could be nearing a return as he took shots at the morning skate on Monday. Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said Anderson is “progressing.”
Down 3-1 in the second period, the Blues climbed back into the game on Colaiacovo’s second goal of the season.
The Avalanche countered with two goals in a 17-second span, their fastest stretch since Oct. 22, 2005.
Yip started the spree with a goal that was initially waved off. The referee ruled that the puck hit off Yip’s hands on a pass from Duchene. After a lengthy review, it was determined that the puck struck Yip’s torso and allowed the goal to stand.
Colorado came right back with another as Jones skated in on Halak and beat him with a shot over the shoulder. Adam Foote was credited with an assist on the goal, moving him ahead of Sandis Ozolinsh for most points by a defenceman in franchise history.
A big momentum swing.
“Every goalie can tell you that playing with the lead is always mentally better,” Budaj said. “When you have a comfortable cushion you tend to settle down, and I think our team played really well.”
As for the Blues’ recent struggles against the Avs, coach Davis Payne was at a loss for an explanation.
“I don’t know what it is about this building. We’ve got to haul our own water in maybe from St. Louis,”Payne said. “We’ve got to make ourselves a little bit more aware of what the dangers are that exist at the other end of the hall.”
NOTES: Blues F David Perron (concussion) missed his sixth straight game. … Avalanche F David Koci (jaw) skated Monday morning without a protective bar on his helmet, but was scratched along with D Jonas Holos.