Despite two more Mikko Rantanen goals, the Avalanche could not help exhibiting exactly who they are: an incomplete team that blows third-period leads. The Blues rallied from one goal down in the final frame to win their final game of the regular season before heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The first period was pretty even—really back-and-forth—for just about its entire duration. And by even, I mean evenly slow-paced and uneventful. St. Louis was able to generate most of its offensive production on a pair of Avalanche penalties, one by Tyson Barrie for tripping and another by Patrick Wiercioch for hooking. Otherwise, with their playoff spot guaranteed, they weren’t doing much either. The teams would manage just eight shot attempts each in the period (and just five combined 5v5 shots-on-goal).
It was until a faceoff in the Avalanche zone with less than a minute left in the period did the scoreboard operator have to wake up. Dmitrij Jaskin won the puck, created himself space and dished to a wide-open Zach Sanford, who managed to occupy an area exactly in the middle of Tyson Jost and Gabriel Landeskog inside the right circle. He took the pass and zipped a wrist shot unperturbed through traffic at the net and in for his fourth tally on the year to give the Blues a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.
Colorado would tie it back up, however, early in the second period when Mikko Rantanen won a faceoff in the Blues’ zone and skated into the slot, looking to make a play. Francois Beauchemin unloaded a slap shot from near the blue line and initially received credit when the puck sailed past goalie Jake Allen and into the net, but it was quickly determined Rantanen had to tipped the shot, giving him an even 20 goals for his rookie season.
Not satisfied, Rantanen would win another faceoff later in the period. Nathan MacKinnon came away with the puck and fired a pass to a pinching Erik Johnson down below the left circle. Johnson’s resulting shot was from a poor angle behind the net, but he took it anyway, seeing Mikko tying up his man in front of the net. The shot wouldn’t go in, but it would fall right to Rantanen, who used his excellent hands to corral the puck and elevate a shot to put his team up 2-1 headed into the third period.
In the third period, it was all about Vladimir—both Sobotka and that Tarasenko fella. The lesser known one scored three minutes into the period when Cody Goloubef both dropped his stick and preceded to run into Matt Duchene and fall down, leaving Francois Beauchemin to fend for himself near the net. Magnus Paajarvi sent a shot wide of the net and Jori Lehtera retrieved it and passed it back out front to the awaiting Sobotka, who made short work of Calvin Pickard to tie the game at two all.
The second of the two Vladimir goals came barely a minute later when Rene Bourque was standing flat-footed in his own zone and allowed Tarasenko to skate right around him and fling a top-shelf wrister through a bunch of traffic. Pickard seemed to be in position to make a save, but either never saw it through the traffic or thought the puck was sailing high—it wasn’t.
St. Louis took a 3-2 lead that they would not relinquish, despite a number of excellent Avalanche opportunities. Colorado would lose the same way they had countless times this season. Their final record? 22-56-4. Just 48 measly points.
It’s over. And no, it wasn’t soon enough.