After an eventful first period, the Colorado Avalanche would ultimately fall to the St. Louis Blues 5-3 on Saturday afternoon. The game started perfectly for the Avs, going up 2-0 early but they could not hold on to a Blues team that was playing with hunger for their season.
The Avs now fall a little further behind in the race for first in the West to the Vegas Golden Knights. They stay two points behind Vegas with a game in hand and could have gone joint-top of the West with a win but could not get it done.
It was a wild first period in St. Louis. Let’s quickly run it down: the Avs got an early 5-on-3 chance that saw them convert twice from Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog respectively. Within four minutes, the Avs were the dominant side up 2-0 early.
It very easily could have been a lot more than 2-0 if Jordan Binnington didn’t stand on his head. This would benefit the Blues as former Avalanche Ryan O’Reilly played angry.
He got his side back in the game after he deflected shot off of Devon Toews and then backhanded one over Devan Dubnyk. Just like that, it was tied 2-2.
The Blues looked to be the most threatening team for the rest of the frame. It would reflect later on when Dubnyk couldn’t control several rebounds in front of him and Ivan Barbashev snapped one into an empty net to make it 3-2 Blues.
Despite the strong start for the Avs, the Blues worked harder than them to end the frame and get them back into the game. The Blues are currently fighting extremely hard for the final playoff spot with the Arizona Coyotes and they were playing like it to end the first, despite two post shots from Toews and Andre Burakovsky super late in the period.
The second period was much more tame than the first. The Blues were missing a key piece in Colton Parayko, who got an upper body injury in the first period and did not return to the game.
Each team struggled with turnovers. This gave both teams opportunities, but no one could convert on these turnovers.
The power play would come in clutch for the Avs again. Mike Hoffman took a slashing penalty, and it allowed Nathan MacKinnon to smoke one from his spot at the left circle right into the top corner of Binnington’s net to tie it 3-3.
This game-tying goal would push the Avs forward. They continued to look threatening for the rest of the frame, which saw MacKinnon smash another one off the post, bringing the total posts hit for the Avs on the day to four.
A late holding penalty would be given to Liam O’Brien that would carry over to the third period, starting the Avs on the wrong foot in a tight game in a crucial period.
The third period started very evenly. Both teams knew the importance of the game, chasing for the top of the division and last spot in the playoffs in the West for the Avs and Blues respectively. This included a big save by Binnington early on MacKinnon. Dubnyk made saves when he needed to as well.
Penalties would ultimately kill the Avs in this game. Kadri and Ryan Graves both took penalties and gave the Blues their own 5-on-3 chance. Mike Hoffmann would make the Avs pay, slapping one past Dubnyk to make it 4-3.
The Avs would give it their best shot, even getting a late power play chance but could not convert on that or the 6-on-5 chance. The Blues would seal it on an empty net goal by O’Reilly for the hat trick and the 5-3 win.
The Blues simply outworked the Avs. The Avs took their foot off the gas when they went up 2-0 and the Blues played angry afterwards. It did not help either that the Avs continued to struggle giving up the puck. Along with this, the Avs need to stop giving up bad penalties. It has caused them struggle as of late, and it made them pay today.
Despite the loss, MacKinnon continued his point streak. His streak is now up to 13 games, with seven goals and 15 assists in that time frame. It also included a goal today on the power play. He continues to be the strongest force in the lineup, even with his line-mate Mikko Rantanen out of the lineup. He will look to become the second player in the NHL this season to have a 14-game point streak.
This game really felt like a playoff game. With the momentum swings each team had, especially in the first period, it had the feel of a playoff game. With this being a possible first-round playoff match-up in a few weeks time, it gave us a view fo what to expect in a series between these two teams.
The Avalanche will continue to stay in St. Louis for one final matchup in the regular season against the Blues on Monday night. Puck drop is set for 5:00 PM MT.