Avalanche Give St. Louis the Blues. Colorado 5 St. Louis 3. Game 45 Recap

USA TODAY Sports

The bargain basement Avalanche pull out a gutsy win against the playoff bound St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.

As a fan it's hard to imagine being this frustrated with a team just for winning games, but that's the way things are in Colorado now. Just two nights after rolling over to a weak Oilers team the Avalanche out battled the 6th place St. Louis Blues and showed great resiliency, establishing 3 separate 2-goal leads to hold off the Blues comeback. There is talent on this team, there are strong elements to Joe Sacco's systems and there is a ton of compete in these players. Just not every night, and that's what is just infuriating as a fan right now. This team has the talent and the tools to be miles better than they are, but they have consistently underachieved all season. There's no easy fix or trade that can correct for that kind of losing culture, you just have to hope they can grow and develop into a team that competes every night, and not just against the big name teams.

Period 1:

- In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the Avalanche scored the first goal of the night when Aaron Palushaj's shot deflected off Jamie McGinn's foot and past Brian Elliott. The play developed off some excellent puck control from Tyson Barrie at the blueline and great deke and pass from Paul Stastny.

- On his next shift Jamie McGinn got involved in some extra-curriculars with Chris Stewart that would send both players to the penalty box.

- 15 seconds into the 4-on-4 opportunity the Jay Bouwmeester took advantage on a defensive breakdown from the Avalanche as he found David Backes alone in the high slot. Backes made a great forehand backhand move to beat J.S. Giguere and tie the game at 1.

- The hungry Avalanche were unwilling to finish the period in a tie. Gabriel Landeskog chased down a blues player to steal the puck and spring Stefan Elliott the other way. With under a minute left in the period, Stefan Elliott took a great backhand shot on net which deflected off Cody McLeod and past Brian Elliott.

Period 2:

- Most nights the Avalanche would let up with a 1-goal lead. They would sit back and let a team like the Oilers or the Flames claw their way back into a game. Tonight they put their foot down and continued to stomp on the Blues even after taking a lead. Early in the second period the Jamie McGinn took advantage of a power play turnover to extend the Avalanche's lead to 2. Ryan O'Reilly turned over the puck as he entered the zone near the right faceoff dot, but in true Ryan O'Reilly fashion he quickly recovered and stole the puck back from David Perron, feeding Jamie McGinn in the high slot for an easy goal. For those keeping track, O'Reilly is still ahead of last season PPG production.

- With the uncharacteristically aggressive and offensive play from the Avalanche it was easy to forget, at least for a moment how this team is defensively. Gabriel Landeskog turned the puck over on the neutral zone boards and sprung St Louis forward Jaden Schwartz for a fast break down the left side. As the Avalanche defense coasted back into the frame, Schwartz unloaded a slap shot past J.S. Giguere and cut the lead in half. Giguere, who was otherwise good in this game, definitely wants that fivehole shot back.

- To say that Matt Duchene's 2nd period goal was unassisted is an understatement. The Avalanche forward absolutely abused Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold, spinning and deking out of reach before driving the net with his head up and wiring a shot to the top shelf past Brian Elliott.

Period 3:

- Hunwick took a hard high stick from Blues captain David Backes 3 minutes into the third period and a fair amount of blood on the ice.

- 8 minutes into the third Kevin Shattenkirk (who else) fired a laser of a wrist shot from the point and beat Giguere's glove off the inside post for his 5th goal of the season. After his goal Shattenkirk was very active with the puck and the Avalanche struggled to gain possession of the puck until.....

- Jamie McGinn cleared the puck deep and sprung Chuck Kobasew for a fast break down the right side. Kobasew swatted a teetering puck through Allen's five-hole to re-establish the two-goal lead.

- On the ensuing shift, Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog both missed near empty nets after taking advantage of St. Louis turnovers.

- Matt Duchene made an excellent play on the penalty kill, stealing the puck from Alex Pietrangelo and making a spinorama pass to John Mitchell to create a dangerous short-handed opportunity. Mitchell however, couldn't get a good shot off.

- With 3 minutes left in the game Greg Zanon made a diving poke check to sweep the puck away from a streaking Blues forward and save a potential 1-0 opportunity.

- With just over 2:30 left in the period Jamie McGinn took an excellent one time shot on net and long after the whistle blew David Backes crushed Jamie McGinn into the boards. P.A. Parenteau jumped on Backes and started a big scrum behind the Blues net. Backes received the only penalty on the play that would leave the Blues with just 30 seconds of even strength hockey to attempt a comeback.

- The Avalanche failed to create much on the power play, but maintained good possession to hold the score at 5-3 and pull out a victory.

Quick Hits

- "The Trade" is always a storyline when these teams meet. Kevin Shattenkirk had a goal on the night, and Chris Stewart had 1 shot. Meanwhile Erik Johnson sat out injured and Jay McClement made the playoffs (with the Toronto Maple Leafs, yeah, let that sink in).

- This was the Avs 8th straight win over the Blues at home.

- Brian Elliott had an abysmal .789 SV%

- The other Elliott (Stefan) has continued to improve his play, with another assist tonight, 20:20 TOI and a +1 rating on the night. Good for Avs fans to see his confidence coming back since he has a ton of offensive talent when he's "on."

- Matt Duchene had 4 shots, 4 takeaways, 0 giveaways, and a goal.

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