St. Louis Blues enter Round 1 without top scorer David Perron due to COVID-19 protocol

DENVER -- The St. Louis Blues were without leading scorer David Perron for Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against top-seeded Colorado on Monday due to the NHL's COVID-19 protocols.

The Blues did, however, have forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who returned from a lower-body injury that sidelined him for six games and nearly made an immediate impact. His snap shot early in the game clanged off the right post. The Blues would go on to lose Monday's playoff opener 4-1.

Perron appeared on the league's "players unavailable due to COVID protocol" list starting Saturday. St. Louis has two other players on the list: forward Nathan Walker and defenseman Jake Walman.

Asked whether Perron was in Denver or at home in St. Louis, Blues coach Craig Berube responded only: "He's in the NHL protocol right now."

Perron's status going forward remains uncertain. His absence is a knock to a Blues team that's also missing defenseman Vince Dunn, who's listed as "day-to-day" on the injury report.

Perron finished the regular season with 58 points in 56 games, becoming the first Blues player to average a point per game (minimum of 15 games) since Pavol Demitra in 2002-03.

"He's a big part of our team," defenseman Colton Parayko said. "Great player. Works hard. Puts up a lot of points. ... We've got to make sure we put our best foot forward with the group we have here."

Tarasenko was limited to 24 games after starting the season on injured reserve following shoulder surgery. The talented right winger had 11 goals and six assists in 2019 when St. Louis captured the Stanley Cup. When Tarasenko is in the lineup, you might find him skating with Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz. It's a group that has been effective in the past but has struggled to produce offense this season. That group will have added pressure now in Game 1.

"He's got to work and skate and compete, and if he does that, he'll be fine," Berube said of Tarasenko. "He's a skilled guy that has a great shot. He'll get his looks."

The Avalanche had forward Brandon Saad back after the veteran missed the final 11 games with a lower-body injury. He's one of three players on this Colorado squad who have captured the Stanley Cup, hoisting the trophy with Chicago in 2013 and '15.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.