After an emotional yet costly Game 3, the Colorado Avalanche still had hockey left to play with one more contest visiting the St. Louis Blues to try and extend their series lead. A four-goal second period and a Nazem Kadri hat trick led to a 6-3 victory and the Avalanche are now one win away from the elusive Western Conference final.
A troubling theme continues as the Avalanche gave up yet another first goal of the game to St. Louis when David Perron scored on a net-front backhand at 5:07 after Devon Toews and Cale Makar got mixed up in defensive zone coverage. The rest of the period was fairly successful as the Avalanche outshot the Blues 15-3 but yet they did not find the back of the net for their own score.
In the second period, it was a total goal explosion with the Avalanche initially taking a commanding lead with three goals on three shots past Blues netminder Ville Husso in 1:42 of gameplay. First, it was Erik Johnson with a great shot from up top at 2:44. Then Kadri got in on the action at 4:07 with a slick short-side shot. Toews put the icing on the cake just 19 seconds later with an unassisted tally off of a turnover.
At that point, the game began to devolve as the Blues decided that was the time to get their pound of flesh out of Kadri. Both Pavel Buchnevich and Perron received penalties for knocking Kadri to the ice and putting the Avalanche on a full-two-minute 5-on-3. While they didn’t score on the power play the fourth Colorado goal was scored by Kadri at 9:37 with the second power-play unit still set up on the ice. A brilliant pass from Bowen Byram found Kadri at the net-front for his second assist of the night.
After the stunning turn of events, the Avalanche just could not get to the second intermission with a three-goal lead. The visitors were not going to get the benefit of the doubt on calls up 4-1 and first Darren Helm went to the box on an extremely soft holding call. Perron rewarded for his earlier antics scored at 17:02 on the net left side open by Darcy Kuemper. EJ took the next penalty and Buchnevich as well got the Blues within one with 33 seconds left in the period. A near collapse but still the Avalanche held the 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.
For the start of the third period thankfully the game settled into 5-on-5 play in which the Avalanche were able to run the clock until none other than Kadri put the dagger in this game with his third goal of the evening at 9:38. That score gave the team the cushion needed to bring the victory home despite having to kill yet another penalty and defend the net with the extra attacker. Mikko Rantanen got his first goal of the postseason on the empty net, assisted by Kadri for his fourth point of the game, with two seconds left, and the Avalanche won by a 6-3 final and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
After 48 hours of narratives dominated by the impending retribution, Kadri would face for the collision with Jordan Binnington it was indeed Kadri who was the story in this game. And that was for the best reasons possible by showing up on the scoreboard three times with his first NHL career playoff hat trick. It’s a shame that Sam Girard’s devastating injury was largely swept under the rug but surely he was smiling at the result of this game, though TNT didn’t have the camera focused on him like Binnington.
Jared Bednar praised his star forward after the game saying how proud he was and how Kadri “elevated his game at the best time to show what he’s made of”. Hopefully, now the teams can get back to playing hockey and focusing on what remains of this series. After two huge road wins the Avalanche can close out the series in Game 5 at home.
"For those who hate, that was for them."— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) May 24, 2022
Nazem Kadri spoke to the panel about his performance tonight in St. Louis and dealing with the threats he received after Game 3 pic.twitter.com/w88yIGm7Yf
The changes made to the Avalanche lineup were another interesting part of this game though did not receive near the same attention. Jack Johnson was the one who filled in for Girard as was pretty much expected. Alex Newhook also finally drew into his first playoff contest as well with Andre Burakovsky taking the night off. Newhook rewarded the coaching staff’s decision with an assist on Johnson’s goal but only played eight minutes so the bottom six forwards situation likely still remains fluid.
Game 5 is back at Ball Arena to hopefully close out the series on Wednesday, May 25 at 6 p.m. MT on TNT.