The Colorado Avalanche came into tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues knowing full well what is on the line. In control of their own destiny for a playoff spot, the Avs faced a Blues team that is fighting just as hard for seeding in the playoffs and the Central Division crown. The fact the Avs came away with one point in a 3-2 shootout loss should be considered a big victory.
Colorado was dominated in the first period in ugly fashion and it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Avs. But if there is any question this team deserves to be in the playoffs, you can look at a game like tonight and see this team has no quit in them. They overcame a 2-0 third period deficit to tie it with under a minute to go and the goalie pulled to force overtime and grab a point they probably didn’t deserve.
While the Avs might have lost in the shoot-out, they gained a point and now hold a two point lead over the idle Arizona Coyotes with three games remaining.
The Blues came out of the gates flying and would control much of the first period as the Avalanche struggled to get any type of cohesion. St. Louis played a fast, physical game and it paid off early despite an early goal being waved off due to the Blues being offsides and a successful challenge by coach Bednar.
It wouldn’t be much longer after the reversed St. Louis goal where the Blues would score one that would count by Jaden Schwartz.
Colorado would get a power play chance after a dirty boarding penalty by Robert Thomas with 1:17 left in the period, but wouldn’t get a good chance to tie the game before the period would end with the limited time available.
St. Louis was clearly the better team in the first and had Colorado chasing for the majority of the period. The Avs wouldn’t register their first shot on goal until 5:13 left in the period by Gabriel Landeskog, and they would finish the first with a grand total of two shots on goal compared to the Blues 15.
Much has been said about the play of Philipp Grubauer in this last recent stretch of success and rightly so. He earned even more praise after the first. If not for his continued stellar play this game would have gotten out of hand after 20 minutes.
The carried over penalty would expire with no shots on goal but Colorado, perhaps embarrassed by their play in the first, came out and looked like a totally different team. They were the ones controlling play in the second and had some very good scoring chances to get on the board and tie the game. If nothing else the Avs were involving Blues goalie Jordan Binnington more by testing the young netminder.
The effort between the two periods was incredibly noticeable. The Avs were attacking rather than skating on their heels. They were finishing checks, beating the Blues (pun intended) to the puck and keeping it in the offensive zone for extended periods of time.
The second period really turned up the heat on the physical play. Multiple times Nikita Zadorov had the opportunity to drop the gloves. I have to give credit to the man for not doing so. He didn’t let the emotion of the game get to him and didn’t forget the importance of it to his team.
Though no team scored in the second period, the Avs flipped the script from the first to the second. Whatever was said at the first intermission lit a fire under the team and they came out ready to compete.
Nathan MacKinnon was on the bench for an extended period of time towards the end of the period and it was not known why. He would return with under two minutes left and while it was for a short shift did not appear to be favoring anything. We will keep you updated as his status becomes available.
Blink, and you might have missed the Blues take command with a goal 14 seconds into the third period when Vladimir Tarasenko hammered home a short range goal after a Grubauer save. Grubauer had the angle but Tarasenko being the scorer he is found the smallest of holes in the Grubs armor.
A 2-0 lead appeared insurmountable but the Avs did their best to climb that mountain. They continued the pressure they imposed in the second and eventually got the break they needed when Landeskog redirected a Patrik Nemeth wrist shot and past Binnington.
The action went into high octane for the rest of the game. Both teams went back and forth and their respective goalies kept the score where it was. This was playoff atmosphere hockey and both teams were amped up. Colorado came oh so close to a game tying goal on a Landeskog redirect (he’s good at those) that clinked off the crossbar with about just under three minutes left.
Colorado pulled Grubauer with just over two minutes and held the puck in their offensive zone for well over a minute before the Blues got it out of the zone. However, the clear was not far beyond the blue line and the Avs quickly got on side and back into the offensive zone as Gabriel Landeskog threw a pass that was directed into the net by a streaking Alexander Kerfoot which would tie the game at two and send it into OT.
In typical NHL overtime fashion both teams went up and down the ice with the trio of Zadorov, Carl Soderberg, and Derek Brassard giving the Avs their best chances at ending the game.
MacKinnon was visibly frustrated during the 60 minutes of regulation and in the extra time when given more space he put his talent on display and almost put a backhand then a rebound in, but was denied. Neither team scored and a shoot-out would determine the extra point.
Former Avalanche Ryan O’Reilly would score in the second round of the shootout which would be the only goal scored by either team and St. Louis would walk away with the victory. MacKinnon, Landeskog and Sven Andrighetto would all be denied.
- With St. Louis scoring first this marked the first time in the last nine games Colorado gave up with first goal of the game. It was also the first time the Avs trailed in any of the previous nine match-ups.
- Make no mistake, this was a hard fought point. A hostile environment, a terrible first period and a well coached opponent had this one looking ugly early on. The Avs horrid OT record continues but this point is welcoming.
- Colorado won’t have much time to tend to their bruises as they turn around and welcome the recently-eliminated Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night.