Well peeps, the Colorado Avalanche pulled it off. In a riveting game, Colorado scored five goals to St. Louis’s two, grabbing the one remaining wild card spot. But before we take you through it, let’s first reflect on the recent tragedy in Saskatchewan.
On Friday night, the hockey world suffered an unthinkable tragedy. The Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team from Saskatchewan collided with a truck on their way to a playoff game a few hours away. With a community in dispair the hockey world stepped up and showed their support for everyone affected. The Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks came together in the city closest to Humboldt and did something simply incredible.
Early on in the game the Avs did an excellent job keeping the puck out of their own zone, not giving St. Louis anything. They had no shots on net, but a weak slashing call on Mark Barberio resulted in a Blues powerplay. St. Louis had some good chances, yet they couldn’t score.
The Blues started to get a little bit of room after the penalty, yet not too much. After a fantastic shift led by the rookie line, the Avs drew a slashing penalty. However, they were unable to convert and generally looked uninspiring.
With less than an minute left, Sam Girard absolutely BLASTED the puck into the net. He was ecstatic after the play, showing more emotion than I’ve ever seen from him (which is totally awesome, by the way!).
Avs end the period up 1-0, with the shots in their favor 12-8.
After a bit of a delay due to a Bernier, the game resumed for the second period of play. Blues early on outplayed the Avs until a good shift by the Compher line. Things started to get a little bit chippy in the game after that, which is insane as the game was already pretty physical.
Blake Comeau make a great play to block a shot and drew a Vince Dunn tripping penalty. Jake Allen then got away with ripping his helmet off, but it didn’t matter. Tyson Barrie one-timed the puck in the net. St. Louis then challenged for offsides, and it was so, so close. After a long delay, Toronto determined it to be a good goal. As a result, Colorado received a power play because of the new rule that deems a failed offside challenge leads to a delay of game penalty against the challenging team. The Avs were unable to get a goal on the man-advantage.
The Blues had chances going the other way but hit two posts. As the momentum swung in St. Louis’ favor, Mark Barberio was called for interference, and unfortunately, the Blues scored on the chance. It was a Jaden Schwartz deflection on an Alex Pietrangelo shot.
Jake Allen looked like he tweaked his leg at one point, but he stayed in the game. The Avalanche started pounding shots into him, at which he made save after save. Tyson Jost and Vladimir Sobotka got in a little tussle, resulting in a 4-on-4. Nathan MacKinnon broke the drought and absolutely sniped the puck top shelf. Avs extend the lead, 3-1.
Period ends with the Avs still up 2 goals, with more shots than the Blues, being 28-22.
The Avs mostly played the boring dump-and-chase hockey, changing lines frequently and preventing St. Louis from getting anything going. It worked fantastically the entire period, but being frustrated with their efforts, St. Louis pulled Jake Allen with 4:35 left.
What resulted was some nerve-wracking play, with the Blues getting some scary chances. However, Landeskog scored the empty-netter with 3:23 and subsequently ended up at the bottom of a dogpile by his ecstatic teammates.
St. Louis pulled the goaltender immediately after, and were rewarded with a Brayden Schenn goal. However, Matt Nieto scored the second empty-netter of the game to seal the deal.
THE COLORADO AVALANCHE ARE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!!!!!!
COME GET SOME, NASHVILLE!
Actually, let’s take this moment to reflect on the season. This team has gone through a lot this season: injuries to critical players such as Johnson, Varlamov, Bernier, Barrie, and of course, MacKinnon. The Matt Duchene trade. The stigma of last year’s horrible, bad, awful, bad, bad season, as well as the fear of its reoccurrence.
The incredible turnaround was among the best in NHL history. In hockey history. Even in all of sports history. Playoffs are just gravy at this point.
As for the team’s play tonight, yes we’ve seen some disappointing results recently, but tonight—at the most critical possible point—the Colorado Avalanche played fantastically when it counted. Every single category, excluding PP%, the Avs bested the Blues. Shots, penalty minutes, hits, blocks, even faceoffs for crying out loud.
We all know what’s next.