Coming in with four straight victories, the shorthanded Colorado Avalanche came to play against the rival St. Louis Blues. Sporting a new defenseman in Andreas Englund due to yet another injury this season to Kurtis MacDermid, the Avs got off to a strong start but got shut down by strong play from St. Louis goaltender Jordan Binnington as the game wore on.
The Compher line with J.T., Logan O’Connor, and Andrew Cogliano started with Josh Manson and Jacob MacDonald and immediately got the puck deep to create some chaos around Binnington.
After a bit of back and forth, Dryden Hunt couldn’t quite finish a Makar rebound into an empty net, off the far post. Englund ended up in the middle of the slot looking for the rebound, showing some nice instincts to jump into the offense.
Hunt then drew a penalty when Torey Krug hooked him down off the faceoff. On the powerplay, Rantanen tried to force one to MacKinnon back door but it got cleared. Then Mackinnon earned a clean entry, leading to a shot with Newhook screening that was swallowed up by Binnington. Not an overly dangerous powerplay, but generated two chances and a couple of shots.
St. Louis was then able to generate some offensive zone time, forcing Georgiev to stay sharp through traffic on a couple of shots. Makar bokes it out himself and then broke Calle Rosen’s stick with a shot.
Later in the period, Evan Rodrigues got dangerous with a wraparound attempt that actually beat Binnington but Jordan Kyrou stuck a leg out to block it. A bit later, ERod struck again when he was tripped up attempting to break the puck out of the defensive zone by Schenn.
On the ensuing powerplay, the first unit generated a lot of shot attempts, but not too many actually on the net. Lekhonen had a shot blocked, a Rantanen feed to MacKinnon was blocked, a Mackinnon timer was stopped, a Makar shot missed wide, a Rodrigues slot shot hit Binnington in the chest, and finally MacKinnon tried to dance through the middle but lost the handle for a Blues clear.
Overall this was a pretty sharp period for Colorado. They started a bit slow but earned two powerplays and really dominated the last 15ish minutes of the period. The top line was definitely cooking and Newhook-Rodrigues with some Kaut and some Hunt generated chances as well. Hunt took Kaut’s place toward the end of the period, probably because Kaut had been fighting the puck a couple of shifts in a row. Not a sharp start for him or Ranta, who failed to clear the defensive zone a couple of times.
The same starting group got it in deep again to grind the walls and generate a couple of Josh Manson shots - one that missed wide, then another that hit Cogliano.
The next shift, Makar fed MacKinnon for a sneaky little side-of-net tip attempt that couldn’t quite sneak up over Binnington’s left leg. The Blues managed just one sustained zone presence in the early part of this period, and then accidentally cleared it themselves, but on the ensuing rush, Georgiev was forced to hold strong on his left post to fend off a Colton Parayko stuff attempt.
At the other end, Erik Johnson got a nice shot off from the high slot that was shrugged off by Binnington, and in the pursuit of the rebound Compher tripped up Robert Thomas for a Blues powerplay. that was largely unable to set up. The most dangerous chance was actually a Thomas turnover to Cogliano, who drove the net and dropped a pass to Kaut who nearly beat Binnington 5-hole.
Back to even strength, Sampo Ranta crushed Schenn in the far offensive zone corner, leaving the puck for Hunt to pick it up and nearly shelf a backhander, but Binnington got a shoulder on it. Makar then backchecked hard on a Brandon Saad breakaway and sprung MacKinnon for a spin-o-rama shot that nearly beat Binnington's far side.
On the next rush up the ice, MacKinnon dropped a pass to Rantanen then drove the net to screen for a shot that the Moose drilled off the far post and in! 1-0 Colorado.
After a couple of rushed chances either way, a lost offensive zone draw led to a Robert Thomas breakaway that he roofed bar down over Georgiev’s glove. It didn’t go straight in, instead, it hit Georgiev’s skate after the bar and dribbled over the line. Regardless, it was a tied 1-all game.
The Blues then managed to sustain some pressure. After an O’Reilly rush chance was blocked away by Georgiev, a seemingly harmless puck thrown toward the slot by Saad ticked off Makar’s stick and found its way barely over Geo’s skate between his butt and the post and trickled in. 2-1 Blues.
The top line looked poised to tie it back up right away, as Rantanen hit MacKinnon in the low slot from behind the net, but the chance was stick-checked away. Then on a faceoff with 5 seconds left Rantanen was called for interference when a Blue tripped on JT and fell over.
This was actually a pretty good period right until it wasn’t. The Avs started strong and took the lead, but gave it right back, and then the weird goal sucked the life out of them. The Rantanen penalty call was insane from the camera’s angle, but for the ref looking through Rantanen’s back, it probably appeared as though Mikko pushed the Blue man down. He did not though, which was frustrating. Not much to analyze here, they’ll just have to kill the penalty, score the next goal, and finish strong in the third, which they should be able to do since they were the better team thus far.
They did not do that though. 13 seconds in, Thomas fed a streaking Kyrou on a nifty zone entry play, who forced Georgiev to track him right to left through the crease then shelved it back over his glove. A really pretty, really annoying goal to start the third making it 3-1 Blues.
The Avs did push back though, as MacKinnon immediately took the puck to the offensive zone himself and from the near wall fed a streaking MacDonald off the bench entering the zone. who took it to the net hard so hard he knocked it off its moorings.
Then Kaut taking the puck to the slot one-on-two was cut down from behind and limped off. Josh Leivo shoved down on his hip and put a ton of stress on his knee or perhaps ankle, and it did not look good for the kid.
Makar saw Kaut find slot space though, and drove the slot himself, and was also cut down but this time it was an obvious tripping call against Braden Schenn. On the ensuing power play, the Avalanche answered Kyrou’s beautiful entry play goal with a no-look pass from Rantanen at the red line to Lehkonen on the near wall, who snapped a shot through a driving Makar off the far post and in. 3-2!
Dryden Hunt nearly tied the game with another chance at an empty net, this time off a Rodrigues rebound the drew defense and goaltender all out of position. Unfortunately he just kinda poked the puck toward the half-empty net and Binnington swam through his crease to stop it.
This was the start of a massive ramp-up in pressure by Colorado that just was not enough to beat Binnington tonight. Lehkonen found Rantanen in the near circle for a drive, a Makar chance was blocked away, and an EJ bomb from the high slot was snagged by Binnington.
Martin Kaut returned and was immediately decked by Barbashev after dumping the puck in. Fortunately this time he got up without issue and spent the shift with Hunt a Rodrigues creating lots of chaos in the near offensive zone corner, but isn’t able to generate an actual shot.
The Blues pushed back a bit, as Ryan O’Reilly drove the net and was stopped by Georgiev, then fed Tarasenko in the slot but just barely missed him. A Saad wraparound nearly got home, and the rebound squeaked out to Leivo for an attempt that was swallowed up by Georgiev’s midsection.
Then a mishandle by Georgiev behind the net nearly gave everyone a heart attack as it leaked into the slot, but Schenn hit the post before Georgiev did just enough to push the rebound away from Kyrou.
With just over two minutes left, Josh Manson went in alone one-on-four for absolutely no reason but Justin Faulk tripped him for even less reason, sending the Avs' potent power play out needing exactly one goal to tie it up.
On the power play, MacKinnon won the draw but Makar couldn’t keep it in. Rodrigues carried the puck to the corner on the entry, then tried to pass back to Makar at the point but it deflected into the air where Buchnevich knocked it up and over the glass. It would make it a five-on-three with nearly two whole minutes to tie the game.
MacKinnon won the next draw as well, and the powerplay was set up cleanly. They dished it around the outside a bit until a Makar one-timer somehow stuck to the inside of Binnington’s five-hole.
MacKinnon lost the next draw, but the Avs pulled Georgiev and got set up 6-3 for an absolute shooting gallery with MacKinnon bombing one-timer after one time that just could not beat Binnington. Seemed like Newhook at one point passed up a chance to pot an empty netter with Binnington caught far post but he didn’t see it and fed the puck back to Makar. Nothing went in, and that’s all she wrote. I will write just a little more, however.
Englund actually looked pretty passable! He has yet to be challenged to make a defensive play but jumped up to break up plays at the offensive blue line and in the neutral zone when the opportunity presented itself and smoothly recovered his position afterward. He’s a better skating big man than I remembered from past seasons. He also made a lot of nifty stick plays behind his own net to turn pucks over and clear the zone. Let’s not get crazy, he’s a definite AHL player at this point, but if he has to play some more games he might show hope for a brighter future than most expect from him.
Kaut’s injury scare looked really really bad, it was great to see him come back and keep the edge to his game we’ve seen recently. Hopefully, he’s okay to keep going.
Dryden Hunt can’t buy a goal man. It is because he has stone hands, not because he gets robbed, but still. If he keeps putting himself in position for open net chances one of them has got to find a way in eventually.
Colorado really did outplay the Blues in this game, but good Jordan Binnington showed up and St. Louis got the lucky bounce goal that proved to be the difference. The top line came to play, but Newhook was a non-factor in the second and third periods, the third line didn’t really threaten much offense despite appearing to dominate possession, and while Kaut, Rodrigues, and Hunt were able to generate some chances they also were not able to bury any.
Depth scoring has to happen to sustain winning streaks, and it didn’t tonight so the streak was snapped. Bednar said it best in his post-game conference - seven guys are out, and it’s hard to expect call-ups to generate offense.
The Avs head to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes for the second time in a week Thursday night. Puck drop is at 5:00 p.m. MT.