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Before COVID knocked the Avalanche out of action for the second time this season, a defining moment for this stellar team occurred Wednesday in St. Louis.

Great teams look back on moments that made them special, and if the Avs recover from their current COVID crisis and win the Stanley Cup, their valiant performance in Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Blues could be at the top of the list.

The Avs didn’t practice Tuesday before traveling to the Gateway to the West, but planned on a morning skate at Enterprise Center. That didn’t happen. Goalie Philipp Grubauer tested positive for COVID-19 and the skate was canceled. The game itself became in doubt but ultimately unfolded with no more positive tests with anyone in the traveling party.

Thing is, the Avs weren’t feeling good about the situation, with their starting goalie unable to play and some players feeling ill from their vaccinations to begin the week. Also, the Blues were fresh and feeling good about the three-game winning streak that got them back into the West Division playoff picture.

The 2019 Cup champions have underperformed most of the season but they finally appeared to find their groove, which Colorado crushed by beating the Blues for the fourth time in five meetings.

“I haven’t been with this group very long but you can just kind of tell that when the games get tight there’s just a lot of character in that room — a lot of leadership, too,” Avs rookie forward Liam O’Brien said. “It’s really cool for me to be around that.”

Wednesday’s game was certainly tight. But the Avs never trailed and staved off St. Louis’ third-period desperation to improve to 9-1 in their last 10 games and extend their NHL-best record to 30-9-4. This team can win in a lot of ways and adversity hasn’t been an obstacle.

“To be able to come in here and get a win here — this hasn’t been an easy building for us to win in over the years — and to come in tonight under these circumstances and get the job I’m really proud of our guys,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said postgame. “I was nervous about this one because the energy level that our team needs to play the way we want to play is really important.”

He added: “I didn’t think our guys would have a great energy level.”

It was a big moment for a Cup-or-bust team, or as Bednar said, “a sign of maturity from our group.”

The next sign of maturity will be how the Avs respond to their second COVID shutdown with just 13 games between them and the Presidents’ Trophy. The Avs won’t have Grubauer for at least seven of those games, and winger Joonas Donskoi is also in quarantine and will miss more than half of the remaining games.

Forty-something records. Early congratulations are due to Bednar, 49, and San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, 41.

Bednar has tied Bob Hartley for first in games coached by an Avalanche bench boss (359) and has 175 career victories — just 18 shy of tying Hartley for the club record. Bednar will become the Avs’ longest-tenured coach as early as Thursday — if the club’s COVID shutdown lasts just three games. He’ll undoubtedly break Hartley’s wins record early next season.

Marleau entered Saturday’s game at Minnesota on an 897-game ironman streak (fourth-longest all-time) and on schedule to play in his 1,768th NHL game Monday at Vegas to break the all-time record of 1,767 held by Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe.

Mr. Hockey, however, played an additional 419 games in the World Hockey Association, hence his nickname.

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