After losing three of their four previous overtime games, it's possible the Avalanche are starting to get a hang of the whole 3-on-3 thing. Division rival St. Louis (23-14-6) loses their fourth straight game while Colorado (20-18-3) inches to just two points from the Western Conference's second wild-card spot.
The Avalanche struck first just 4:48 into the opening period. Matt Duchene blocked an Alexander Steen shot from the blue line, corralled the puck, and skated past the lone defender to score the first goal of the game (Video). St. Louis, however, would take control late in the period, first on a Vladimir Taresenko goal (Video) and then David Backes on a power play with just 58 seconds left in the period and Nate Guenin in the box for tripping (Video).
The wind has been sucked out the Avalanche sails during many a 2nd Period this season, and that moment seemed to come less than a minute into the middle frame when the aforementioned Guenin flubbed a chip off the boards and coughed the puck up to Patrik Berglund skating with momentum. No. 5 pointed at a helpless Zach Redmond to help but Berglund buried the shot to make the score 3-1 Blues (Video). But the Avs didn't collapse. In fact, they struck back when Andreas Martinsen shot a pass up ice to Jarome Iginla that ended up on Mikhail Grigorenko's stick short after crossing the St. Louis blue line. A couple of nifty moves and a wrist shot brought the game back to 3-2 (Video).
Neither team would score until late in the 3rd, when the Avs pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov for a 6th skater. Duchene held the puck in the right corner with his famous array or whirling skating ability and fired the puck back to Nick Holden on the blue line. He then slid it over to Tyson Barrie who found Nathan MacKinnon below the dot. Mac hesitated briefly before launching the puck toward the net, through a Carl Soderberg screen, and eventually into the net to tie the game 3-3 with just 1:30 remaining (Video).
The ensuing overtime period would yield a number of high quality shots for both teams, including a golden Matt Duchene hustle breakaway. But the game would be decided when Francois Beauchemin came across the puck and passed it up-ice to a streaking John Mitchell. Blues goalie Jake Allen came way out of the net to stop the opportunity, but whiffed on Mitchell, who deftly made a cross-ice pass to Gabriel Landeskog for an easy shot into the open net.
- Gabriel Landeskog - It hasn't been all gravy of late -- in fact, many of us believe you're fighting through some injuries -- but tonight was vintage Captain. The game winning goal was great, but the overall body of work was a great asset to the team tonight. Plus-7 CF tonight 5v5 on a night the Blues were a better possession team.
- Soderberg/Comeau - Give it up for his line mates too. These guys have been tremendous offseason free agent signings and are still getting better as they establish themselves on the roster.
- Vladimir Tareskenko - I hate giving recognition to opponents during Avalanche victories, but he's just fun to watch. Scored his 24th goal of the season tonight and was Plus-9 CF to lead all skaters 5v5. Wonder if he gets paired with Duchene at all for the Central team in the All-Star game.
- Nate Guenin - Man, this one was rough. A couple of costly errors tonight handling the puck. With Andrew Bodnarchuk now in the fold, it will be interesting to see who is riding the bench during this next stretch. My vote is Brandon Gormley gets back in the lineup.
- Jake Allen - Really aggressive play likely saved a number of good scoring chances for the Avs, but I'm not sure what the St. Louis goalie was thinking on the overtime game winner. That was a bad gamble of the puck and it ultimately cost the team.