DENVER – The Avalanche’s speed and skating ability can hypnotize and demoralize their opponents alike.
The Blues’ second-period woes continued on Tuesday at Ball Arena. The Blues were powerless to obstruct the flow of traffic. There were no officers on the ice to set up a speed trap for the Avalanche.
Except for the Blues, it was a stunning display.
However, the Blues were able to weather the storm. They scored a late Jordan Kyrou power-play goal to force overtime, despite being outshot 41-25 in the first period of play.
“Coach Craig Berube stated, “We’re right there.” If you miss, you’ll be eliminated from the playoffs. There you have it, in a nutshell. (Brandon Saad) is close to breaking away, and it could have made all the difference. We’ll regroup and get ready for the next game.”
When it came to overtime, the Blues couldn’t get the one-shot they needed. There wasn’t a single one.
A power play from the end of the third quarter extended over into overtime for Colorado. The Avalanche dominated overtime, outshooting the Blues 13-0 while playing as if they had one continuous power play.
The Blues’ 13th shot went awry, and they lost the game. At the 8:02 mark, the game-winning goal was scored by Josh Manson — yep, Josh Manson.
Colorado defeated the Blues 3-2 at Ball Arena, and the teams will meet again here on Thursday in the second game of the series.
“I thought we were right there, the way we’ve been playing,” Berube remarked before the game. “It boils down to the fact that we need more players to perform.” Again, we need to make better puck moves.”
Even when the Blues were able to get a puck out of their zone, they were unable to win a faceoff for the life of them. As a result, the defeat was more complex than merely capitulating to the speed of Colorado.
To put it another way, the Blues were only able to win 36% of faceoffs. A 33-percent effort on Feb. 22 at Philadelphia ranked as the team’s second-worst performance in 89 regular season and postseason games.
On a bad night, even Ryan O’Reilly has a hard time. He had a 50 percent or greater faceoff percentage in 29 of his previous 30 games before Tuesday, when he ended 12 for 28. So the Blues had a bad night in the ring.
“No,” Berube replied. “We’ll play better next time.”
Although Pavel Buchnevich provided some good defense, the Buchnevich, Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko lines were practically non-existent. The trio did not take a shot on goal. Their two shots were deflected and two of their shots missed the target. And with that, I bid you farewell.
“It’s all about the work and the competition,” Berube remarked. “At this time of year and against this squad, you have to fight for space and pucks. That’s a given.”
“That’s it. ” That’s what it comes down to, along with staying connected. You need to have several players on the ice at all times. Their one-on-one spacing was a problem, as was their lack of effort in controlling the pucks.”
Goaltender Jordan Binnington, who had one of the greatest games of his career, showed lots of fights. It was the most shots on goal Binnington had faced in a season, and he made the most saves.
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog praised his team’s goaltender, saying, “Their goalie performed pretty nice for them tonight.” A few saves when it felt like he had an empty net and stuck his leg out, or hand out, or something. That kind of stuff. He did a great job.”
The Avalanche had a lot of bad luck with the puck, as they struck the post or crossbar four times in the course of the game. Even so, Binnington’s effort shouldn’t be devalued because of it.
The Blues were outshot 54-25 for the game. Colorado enjoyed a commanding 106-45 advantage in total shooting attempts, which includes blocked and missed shots as well as shots on goal.
Colton Parayko remarked, “He kept us in the game.” “Gave us a chance to win. All night long, he had a string of tremendous hits. “It was a chance to get into the series,” he said.
The Avs’ Big Four of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog scored none of Colorado’s three goals, which is ironic for the Blues.
As a 25-goal scorer in the regular season, Valeri Nichushkin’s second-period rebound equalized the game at 1-1. The second-period goal by defenseman Samuel Girard, who has only 22 regular-season goals in five NHL seasons, made it 2-1.
So far in eight seasons with Anaheim as his new teammate, Manson is averaging just 28 goals per season. However, that’s how it worked out on Tuesday.
With 6 12 minutes of play remaining, the St. Louis Blues were ahead 1-0 thanks to a slick backhander from O’Reilly, who capitalized on a Colorado error in the Avalanche zone. It equaled a team record for consecutive postseason goals for O’Reilly, who now has five in a row.
The Avalanche seized a 2-1 lead in the second period after a stalemate in the first period was broken up by the Avalanche’s speed. As the first came to a close, the Blues showed some signs of life, but they were still outshot 19-9 in the final 20 minutes.
They’ll have to get back together on Thursday and find a way to slow down the Avalanche’s furious pace.
We need to improve our forechecking, according to Kyrou, who believes the team should aim to stop pucks more. “I think we were taking a lot of steps backward,” he said. Because they’re a quick team, they’ll take advantage of the space that’s opened up.