A trip back to see the St. Louis Blues isn't what the Colorado Avalanche needed to try and build off of their win against San Jose. The Blues are 8-0-3 against the Avalanche, and added another victory to their tally with a 6-1 drubbing on Thursday that was all but over before the midpoint of the contest.
The first period kicked off with a bang, when Brayden Schenn and Gabriel Landeskog dropped the gloves after the opening face-off.
(Any theory on the reason is just as good as another, but Landeskog wanting to kickstart his team after a few tentative opening periods in previous games seems plausible.)
Any momentum for the Avalanche didn't last, though, as Schenn then scored on a power play at 8:41. Nikita Zadorov lit up Paul Stastny - which drew the ire of the Blues, and in return gave the Avalanche their own power play - did not yield the same results, and the scene was set.
It appeared as if Colorado could bring things back in their favor, when just 2:50 into the second Gabriel Bourque came out and made an incredible individual effort with a steal to score - which tied the game at one goal apiece.
Unfortunately, the tie would prove to be short lived, though, as the Blues would hang on four unanswered goals due to defensive breakdowns and some bad bounces mixed in.
Semyon Varlamov relieved Jonathan Bernier after the Blues' third goal, but it didn't really matter; this game was going straight to garbage time.
Paul Stastny added the sixth Blues goal for good measure six minutes into the third period, just to satisfy the ex-Avalanche score retirement - and with that, the game was mercifully over.
It will be easy to point to the fight giving the Blues and Schenn momentum, but it will also be easy to forget this game was tied at one point long after that event occurred.
It's also easy to say the absence of Nathan MacKinnon was felt this evening. And while that's true every night, it's not the difference between the Avalanche starting the contest on equal footing with the Blues. The Avalanche have to play perfect, and maybe even a little lucky, hockey to win a game like this. They aren't there yet.
In a day when the New York Rangers sent a note to their fans to prepare them for a busy trade deadline and rebuild - while entering the evening just three points out of a playoff spot - it's a good time to take a step back and ponder just what it means to sit a few points out of a wild card playoff spot. The Avalanche broadcast talks about this constantly, as it is some sort of goal. After the disaster and pain of last season, any hint at competitiveness and moments of fun should be treasured and enjoyed, but what's important is to not lose sight of the big picture - and what got the Avalanche in the cycle in the first place. Close isn't enough.
Blake Comeau left the game with an undisclosed injury, no word on the severity of his ailment. In a time where the Avalanche will be in playing every other day for a month, it seems they are doing all they can to keep a fully healthy lineup. However getting MacKinnon back sooner than later, as what's been hinted at, would be a huge boost for the team both on and off the ice.
The road trip continues with the first half of a back to back on Saturday, February 10th at 6pm MT against the Carolina Hurricanes.