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Monday August 2nd, 2021 11:07AM

Blues report virus testing issue to NHL, expect to play Avs

By The Associated Press
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The St. Louis Blues reported coronavirus testing problems to the NHL on Wednesday, hours before Game 2 of their first-round playoff series in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

General manager Doug Armstrong said the team “discovered discrepancies in COVID test results relating to multiple players" and was working with the NHL to address them. Both teams were expecting to play the second game of their series after Colorado won the opener Monday night.

An NHL spokesman said an update was expected later Wedesday afternoon.

The Blues took the ice for their pregame skate in Denver but canceled media sessions scheduled for coach Craig Berube and players. Wingers Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz and goaltender Jordan Binnington were not on the ice with the rest of the team for the pregame skate.

St. Louis is the only one of the 16 playoff teams with any players on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list. Leading scorer David Perron has been on the list and unavailable since Saturday, defenseman Jake Walman since Friday and forward Nathan Walker since Thursday. Perron did not travel with the team for the first two games of the series against the Avalanche.

The team recently confirmed that Walman, who’s fully vaccinated, had tested positive for the virus after undergoing additional tests and was put in quarantine. Blues forward Zach Sanford was on the protocol list March 20-21 before further testing revealed a false positive.

The NHL began relaxing virus protocols last week for any team that had 85% or more of its traveling party fully vaccinated. The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning was the only team to confirm it has reached that threshold.

Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov were unavailable from May 4-15 because of virus protocols. They were cleared to return to the ice Sunday but missed Game 2 of the Capitals’ first-round series against the Bruins on Monday. Game 3 was Wednesday night at Boston.

A total of 51 regular-season NHL games were postponed for virus-related reasons. Those postponements pushed back the original May 8 end date for the regular season, which didn't wrap up until Wednesday afternoon as Calgary and Vancouver wrapped up their delayed schedules against each other.

The Blues, who won the Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2019, went into the playoff bubble last summer as a top contender and lost in the first round. Armstrong said roughly 20% of players had COVID-19 before the 2019-20 season resumed.

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AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver contributed.

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Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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