The St. Louis Blues faltered in their first attempt to clinch a playoff spot by losing to the eliminated Colorado Avalanche in the opener of a home-and-home series.
They'll get another chance Tuesday night when they look for a fourth straight home victory over Colorado.
St. Louis (26-17-2) was riding a three-game win streak when it visited Colorado on Sunday but couldn't rally from a two-goal deficit in the second period in a 5-3 loss. After going 8-1-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average in his previous nine games, Brian Elliott was pulled after giving up the fourth goal late in the second.
Colorado's Jamie McGinn had two goals and an assist to match his career high with three points.
"We just didn't play as good as a team," Elliott said. "That's not how we want to play. Obviously, it's frustrating not getting the win and clinching a playoff spot like we had a chance to do tonight. That's what's frustrating.
"You can't dwell on this too much, you have to take (the loss) for what it is and learn from it. This is not the time of year to have a team effort like that. From the goalie out, we have to be better."
St. Louis might have better success at home, where it's outscored Colorado 10-3 in the past three matchups. The Blues need one point to secure their second straight playoff berth, and they're three points behind Los Angeles for home-ice advantage in the first round.
"We have a chance to play the spoiler role, and we want to make it tough on these guys to get in the playoffs," McGinn said.
Elliott is 2-0-0 with a 0.97 ERA in two home starts against Colorado since signing with the Blues in July 2011. He started 12 games for the Avalanche in 2010-11 after being acquired from Ottawa.
It's unknown if Elliott will play in this game, but Semyon Varlamov will likely get the chance to try to continue his success against St. Louis. He is 4-0-1 with a 1.53 GAA in five all-time matchups, the most recent a 1-0 overtime win Feb. 20.
Colorado (15-23-7) has won both meetings this season and is 11-2-1 in the last 14 matchups with the Blues. The Avalanche are a league-worst 3-15-4 on the road, but they've collected three points in their last two away from home and are 3-1-2 in their past six overall.
"We can play against anyone in this league if we put our minds to it," goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "If we skate, play the system the way it's supposed to be and we're on the same page, then we can compete against any team in this league. That's something we should be excited about, something we should build on."
St. Louis' David Backes had a goal and an assist Sunday, giving him five goals and three assists in his last 10 matchups with Colorado.
The Associated Press News Service
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