The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues came out for Game 2 each with their own game plan. Colorado hoped to head to St. Louis with a 2-0 series lead, while St. Louis hoped for a 1-1 tie going home.
The Blues got their wish, taking command for pretty much the full 60 minutes in a great 4-1 win for them. The team was able to put their stamp on the game and kept the Avs at bay for the majority of the game. They now head home feeling extremely good with a tied series and a great chance to take grasp of the series at Enterprise Center.
The Avs came out flat with the exception of Darcy Kuemper. He was given the task of saving a couple of early shots before the second line of the Avs gave them some momentum. But, turnovers were hurting them as it gave the Blues plenty of offensive zone time.
It was had to get any momentum going for either side, as they were held up by one another in the offensive zone. Late on, Cale Makar crashed into the post and fell down awkwardly, giving the Avs a scare heading into the break.
Once again, Kuemper was relied on early making a nice glove save after a hard shot off the end boards. The Avs became too reliant on the netminder to make some saves, but he couldn't do it all. Jordan Kyrou deflected a shot off of the heel of the stick of Samuel Girard and over the glove to give the Blues the lead.
The Avs looked to get something going after J.T. Compher drew a hooking penalty out of Brayden Schenn, who again wasn’t happy about the call. They could not get anything going except for a great chance canceled out by the skate of Niko Mikkola, where Nazem Kadri was behind him to put the puck into a gaping net.
The referees had a nightmare of a game from there on out, missing a holding call on Ryan O’Reilly before calling Devon Toews for tripping. Just seconds later, Valeri Nichushkin had a great chance on the penalty kill being tied up with a Blues defender. It sent him crashing into Jordan Binnington and he was called for a penalty on it.
Nichushkin couldn’t do anything about it, and it angered Avs fans and players. It would only make matters worse when David Perron scored on the 5-on-3 in the final minute of play to double the lead and have all the momentum heading into the final frame.
Things looked promising for the Avs after the penalty kill. They got a make-up call of their own after Perron slightly hooked Nathan MacKinnon. Gabriel Landeskog capitalized down low over the shoulder of Binnington to cut the lead in half.
The Avs had the momentum and were pushing hard. They led in shots on goal for the first time all night after Artturi Lehkonen nearly equalized streaking in down low from an angle. However, all of that was killed by a bad Andre Burakovsky turnover to Perron on a 2-on-1 who didn’t miss. He restored the lead back to two, up to 3-1.
The Avs would pull Kuemper to try and get anything late. They only made matter worse when former Avalanche star Brandon Saad would put in an easy empty-netter to kill off the game 4-1 and head back to St. Louis with the series even.
The Blues switched things up for Game 2, shuffling lines and looking to get momentum from anywhere after their disappointing Game 1 overtime defeat. With the help of some bad puck possession from the Avs, they were able to get things going. They now head home with all the momentum and a great chance to grab the series lead, which is an unpleasant thought for the Avs players and community.
Kuemper was the one player who really showed up for the Avs. He kept St. Louis off the board early and kept them in it for as long as he could. He got no help and couldn’t do much on the first two goals, and got unlucky on the third goal going off the heel of his glove.
While I hate to be that guy, the referees had a shocking performance tonight. They missed several calls, called some not-so-great calls, and were, unfortunately, a major part of the final score of the game. It sucks that this is just how officiating is in these Stanley Cup Playoffs year after year.
With that being said, it was not the only reason the Avs lost tonight. They were nowhere near as good as they needed to be and let the Blues control play on their home ice. It feels very similar to Game 2 last season against the Vegas Golden Knights. While they won that game, they now go on the road feeling the pressure. They have to not be feeling good about their chances with perhaps a repeat of what happened last year on their minds.
The series shifts to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT on TNT.