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Burakovsky scores 2, Avs beat Blues to clinch playoff berth

Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Brandon Saad and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added goals as the Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff berth with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Colorado improved to 18-1-2 in its last 21 games. The Avalanche are 8-1-0 in April after finishing a league-best 12-2-3 in March, setting franchise records for wins and points in a month. The Avalanche are 5-1-0 against the Blues this season, with a 20-11 scoring margin.

The Avalanche returned to the ice for the first time since April 14, when they beat the Blues 4-3. They had three games postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.

Colorado Avalanche's Brandon Saad (20) is unable to score past St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) and Jake Walman (46) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

Since March 5, the Blues have posted a 5-11-4 record. The fifth-place Blues are one point behind the Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the West Division. Arizona has played three more games.

Colorado goalie Devan Dubnyk recorded 23 saves. Dubnyk arrived in a trade with the San Jose Sharks before the NHL deadline. Dubnyk has won three of his last four starts against the Blues, dating to his time with the Sharks.

Jaden Schwartz scored both goals for St. Louis. Jordan Binnington had 25 saves.

Colorado Avalanche's Andre Burakovsky (95) looks to pass as St. Louis Blues' Vince Dunn (29) defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

Burakovsky gave Colorado a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 6:45 of the second period. After the puck bounced off the boards, Burakovsky tapped in the puck past Binnington, Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon each assisted. MacKinnon extended his point streak to 12 games (7 goals, 12 assists) and has the longest active streak in the NHL.

Burakovsky added his second goal, the eventual winner, at 11:29 of the third period, scoring from the right faceoff circle.

The Blues cut the lead to 3-2 when Schwartz scored at 13:43.

St. Louis Blues' Brayden Schenn, left, passes under Colorado Avalanche's Samuel Girard (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

The Avalanche added an empty net goal by Bellemare at 18:29.

Each team scored in the first period.

The Blues took a 1-0 on a power-play goal by Schwartz at 3:18. Schwartz one-timed the puck by Dubnyk for his first goal in 18 games.

St. Louis Blues' Tyler Bozak (21) shoots as Colorado Avalanche's Ryan Graves (27) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

A turnover by Zach Sanford that Colorado cashed in at 19:28 tied the game 1-1. Saad got a pass in the slot while standing alone and scored on a backhand shot from in front.

BACK ON THE ICE

G Philipp Grubauer, RW Joonas Donskoi, who has 15 goals, and RW Mikko Rantanen, who ranks second in the NHL with 26 goals, are on the COVID-19 protocol list. D Bowen Byram has exited protocol and rejoined the club.

Colorado Avalanche's Devon Toews (7) clears a puck as goaltender Devan Dubnyk (40) and St. Louis Blues' Jordan Kyrou (25) watch during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

INJURIES

St. Louis F Robert Thomas (upper-body injury) remained out and has missed four games since he got hurt April 9 against Minnesota. He did take part in the morning skate and is expected to play Saturday.

MILESTONE

Colorado Avalanche's Brandon Saad, right, handles the puck as St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, left, and Colton Parayko (55) defend during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

Jared Bednar coached his 360th game with Avalanche, passing Bob Hartley for most in Colorado history. He is second to Quebec’s Michel Bergeron (634) in franchise history.

AVALANCHE DEBUT

After being reacquired by Colorado on April 9, D Patrik Nemeth made his season debut with the Avalanche. Nemeth missed the team’s past three contests while recovering from a minor upper-body injury. Colorado sent its fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft to the Red Wings for Nemeth before the trade deadline.

Colorado Avalanche's Nazem Kadri (91) reaches for a loose puck along side teammate Carl Soderberg and St. Louis Blues' Ryan O'Reilly (90) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

ROSTER MOVE

Colorado D Conor Timmins (recalled from AHL) returned to the active roster. He had been sent down April 15.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Avalanche and Blues meet again Saturday afternoon.

More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL://apnews.com/hub/NHL

Colorado Avalanche's J.T. Compher (37) handles the puck as St. Louis Blues' Jake Walman (46) defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 22, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)