Return to hockey: Avalanche face off against Blues on Sunday

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DENVER, COLORADO – JANUARY 02: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche fights for the puck against Ivan Barbashev #49 of the St Louis Blues in the first period at the Pepsi Center on January 02, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Avalanche face off against the St. Louis Blues at 4:30 p.m. MDT on Sunday at Rogers Place in Edmonton for the first game of the Western Conference round-robin series.

The Avs beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in an exhibition game on Wednesday. Joonas Donskoi, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog scored goals in the first contest for the teams in almost five months.

Discipline was an issue in the Avalanche win. There were nine penalties called on seven different players in, what Coach Jared Bednar called, the “chippiness of the game“.

“Some of our penalties we were reaching in and trying to keep plays alive when we probably should have let guys go,” Bednar said. “Too many holding, hooking, tripping stick penalties that we need to avoid here and clean up before we play on Sunday.”

The Blues are the current Stanley Cup champions and were two points ahead of the Avs when play was paused in March. The Chicago Blackhawks, who only made it into the playoffs due to the NHL Return to Play Plan, blanked the Blues 4-0 in the exhibition game played on Wednesday.

The Avalanche and Blues split their four game series during the regular season, each with two home wins. The teams are evenly matched, with fully healthy rosters for both clubs.

The round-robin series determines ranking of the top four teams in the Western Conference. The Avs play the Dallas Stars on Aug. 5 and the Vegas Golden Knights on Aug. 8. All games are being televised on Altitude Sports, which is only available on DIRECTV.

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