The energy was high as the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues faced off in Ball Arena. Colorado had a series lead of 3-1 and it felt like tonight might be the night they ended things for the Blues and moved on to the conference finals. The series had been defined by serious injuries and subsequent racist attacks against Colorado forward Nazem Kadri. But with the support of the crowd, the Avalanche had the opportunity to capture a big win on home ice.
The first period
Colorado hit the ice with intensity, moving the puck around and taking immediate control of the game. They were able to create some scoring chances which unfortunately came to nothing. That was until a pass from Artturi Lehkonen connected with Nathan MacKinnon at 3:51, who powered it into the goal. This was MacKinnon’s sixth goal of the playoffs and his first this series.
MacKinnon wasn’t messing around. He was persistent with the forecheck, keeping the momentum going and energizing the crowd. Colorado had to go on the penalty kill after Lekhonen was called for interference, but they successfully killed it off, denying the Blues a goal. When Colorado got a power play after Robert Bortuzzo held Darren Helm’s stick, MacKinnon wasn’t going to waste it, flipping the puck over Husso’s shoulder and in.
The second period
The Avalanche started the second period on the power play with a 2-0 lead. Soon after they were on the penalty kill again, which would become a theme of the game. It felt like both teams were trading penalties back and forth. They were able to kill the Blues’ second power play, and the third goal of the night came from Gabriel Landeskog on a pass from Devon Toews.
It was after this goal that things started to slip for the team. Although they were back on the power play after Kadri took a high stick, they weren’t able to capitalize on the man advantage. Chaos ensued in front of the Avalanche net, and with nobody able to get control of the puck, Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Blues.
The third period
Despite the Blues getting a goal in the second, it felt like the Avalanche still had control of the game. They were up by two, and as long as they could hold on to this lead they would be ending the series tonight. It took until almost halfway through the third for the next goal, coming from Robert Thomas of the Blues. The Avalanche were letting their lead slip away, and with a goal from Justin Faulk at 15:14, the Blues tied the game at three.
MacKinnon found his energy, getting a hat trick, the second for Colorado players in consecutive games after Kadri’s in St. Louis. They once again held the lead, but less than two minutes later, Thomas would score his second goal for the Blues. The game was tied and would be going to overtime.
It was almost impossible to reconcile the reality that this game was going to overtime with the energy the Avalanche had brought to the first period. Somehow they had lost it along the way, failing to connect with passes and giving away the puck at crucial moments.
It was the Blues who came out victorious in overtime after Tyler Bozak scored at 3:38. A bitterly disappointing end for the Avalanche, forcing Game 6 in St. Louis.
This loss really hurts. No loss is particularly fun, but this one feels especially unnecessary and careless. The Avalanche had a win right in front of them until they gave up a series of goals that forced the game to go to overtime. It would have hurt less and felt less frustrating if it had been an even match from the start. To lose like this, when for so long they’d dominated, is disheartening.
It’s not ideal that they’re going back to St. Louis. The hostility of the crowd there can’t be underestimated. The Avalanche didn’t let it get to them in Game 4 and they’ve got to keep on top of it in this next game.
The positive is that they still have the series lead. The Blues have to win both of the next games if they’re going to defeat the Avalanche, whereas Colorado only needs one win to progress to the conference finals. I believe the team has it in them if they play the game they are capable of and don’t let the Blues control what happens on the ice. We know they’re capable and can do it. We’ve got to hope they come out in the next game with the same intensity they did tonight, holding on to it instead of letting it fade as the game progresses.
Game 6 will take place in St. Louis on Friday night at 6 p.m. MT on TNT.