Jaden Schwartz was back on the ice for the Blues Thursday night after missing 20 games, helping the team to a 3-1 win over Colorado. (St. Louis Blues)

By Rob Rains

He didn’t score a goal or contribute an assist, but having Jaden Schwartz back on the ice Thursday night provided a major boost to the Blues.

After missing 20 games with an ankle injury which occurred when he blocked a shot on Dec. 9, Schwartz was activated from injured reserve before the game against Colorado and promptly took his customary spot on left wing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen.

Schwartz was on the ice for one of the Blues’ goals, their second power-play goal of the night, as they defeated the Avalanche 3-1 at Scottrade Center in their final game before the All-Star break.

“He will get better,” Schenn said, “although I think he played pretty well tonight. It’s not easy coming back, playing a team like that that’s been red hot. But you could just see the energy he brings for us, five on five, zone entries, forecheck, making plays … I think we had quite a few chances tonight and he’s only going to get better.

“We all know what he does on the ice but off ice I think he brings a good attitude to the rink every day. He’s enjoyable to be around, guys like being around him and it translates onto the ice. Guys are excited he’s back in the lineup and he gave our team a boost.”

Steen also knows what getting Schwartz back can mean for the Blues.

“It moves some pieces around,” Steen said. “We can get back to lines that he we had prior to his injury that I think we really like. Our line especially early on in the game,I liked our jump. It’s easy playing with those two guys. They work extremely hard and all three of us read off each other and we turn a lot of pucks over and we were able to push the momentum into their offensive zone in the first period.”

Paul Stastny’s power play goal put the Blues ahead 15:53 into the first period before Schenn scored, also on the power play, at 11:28 of the second period.

Colorado cut the lead to 2-1 with 2:51 left in the second period before Steen’s goal with 1:20 left in the third period sealed the victory.

Schwartz logged 18:22 minutes of ice time and had four shots on goal, all in the first period.

Schwartz was playing like an All-Star before he was hurt with 14 goalsand 21 assists in 30 games, compiling a plus 23 rating, one of the best in the NHL.

Most importantly he was helping the team win. The Blues were 20-8-2 with Schwartz in the lineup to start the season. In the 20 games he did not play before Thursday night, they were 9-10-1.

“Kind of what you would expect,” coach Mike Yeo said of Schwart’s return. “He comes out in the first period and he’s getting scoring chances and already creating. I thought as the game wore on a little bit he started to look a little more tired, which is completely understandable, but he’ll get that back quickly. He’s in good shape bur there’s another level you have to get to when you get into the game and start competing and battling.”

Part of that stretch included a struggling period for goalie Jake Allen, who sat out again against the Avalanche as Carter Hutton made his fifth consecutive start and ninth in the team’s last 11 games. Hutton stopped 36 of 37 shots by the Avalanche.

While Schwartz was out, the Blues also had trouble scoring. They topped three goals in only two of the 20 games when he was out of the lineup.

They also struggled mightily on the power play, scoring just six times in 54 chances over those 20 games. They were 2-of-3 on Thursday night.

The Blues enter the All-Star break with a record of 30-18-3 and 63 points, in third place in the Central Division. They lead Dallas by three points and moved six points ahead of Colorado, but they have played one more game than the Stars and three more games than the Avalanche.

Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo will represent the Blues in Sunday’s All-Star game in Tampa, the first time for each to play in the game. The regular-season will resume on Tuesday night, when the Blues will host the Montreal Canadiens.