(PhotoCredit: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
The Blues clearly outplayed the Avalanche Thursday night, but Varlamov was brilliant.
St. Louis has had some recent success in California where they won 2 in a row. Head Coach, Mike Yeo went into this one with a similar mindset. For the most part, the lineup remained the same. However, Joel Edmundson was added to the mix. It was his first game back after missing 13 due to injury.
The Blues had some great chances early in the game. It was good to see Vladimir Tarasenko show some determination and power his way toward the net on one particular play. Also, Vladi set up Brayden Schenn with a nice backdoor feed. Avalanche goaltender, Semyon Varlamov had answers though. He was very sharp early.
This was one of those games where the Blues gave it everything they had, but it just wasn’t good enough. The Avalanche showcased great goaltending and the Blues lacked some luck. The bounces were there so there’s no excuse. The inability to strike was prevalent. Jake Allen wasn’t at his best for the Blues, but once again, St. Louis scored just 1 goal in front of him.
Nathan MacKinnon opened the scoring midway through the 1st period to extend his point streak to ten games. Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog had assists on the Avalanche goal. MacKinnon let a wrister go from the left circle to beat Jake Allen on his glove side. Judging from the video, it looks like Jake could have been screened by Blues defenseman, Colton Parayko.
Just about 3 minutes later, Tyson Barrie took a shot from the right point which looked to bounce off of Allen’s blocker. It could have been deflected by Landeskog. Either way, a juicy rebound was left for MacKinnon who capitalized on a wide-open net for his second goal of the game. That’s 35 goals on the season for Nathan MacKinnon. Rantanen also had an assist on this goal. Colton Parayko responded by nearly scoring, hitting the crossbar within the final minute of the 1st period.
Nearly halfway through the second, Joel Edmundson was able to make it a one-goal game for the Blues. That’s his 7th of the season and 11th of his career. He sent a shot through plenty of traffic to beat Varlamov from the middle of the ice near the blue line. Colton Parayko and Dimitrij Jaskin registered assists on the goal. It was great to see Joel make an impact so quickly in his first game back. The Blues surely missed him. However, he’d be the only Blue to capitalize in this contest.
Three and a half minutes remained the frame. The Blues were caught changing lines at the wrong time and they paid for it. Gabriel Landeskog sent a pass from his own zone up ice to Mikko Rantanen who was all alone. Vince Dunn did everything he could to chase him down, but Rantanen scored on Allen’s glove side with his backhand coming in from the right. Mikko would eventually score the empty netter at the end of the game, too. Rantanen had 4 points (2g,2a).
St. Louis shot the puck a lot in this game. They weren’t finding the net when it counted though. Vladimir Tarasenko looked very frustrated. He had quite a few prime opportunities in this game. Vladi was in the right spot at the right time all night, but he couldn’t seem to finish. At one point, he found himself a rebound and backhanded the puck right past a wide-open net. It wasn’t just Tarasenko though. Overall, the Blues missed a lot of key opportunities to get back into this game by simply missing the goal.
Regardless, the Blues led the game in shots on goal with 45. St. Louis controlled play for most of the game, too. Varlamov was really the difference maker saving 44 of those shots. Unfortunately, the St. Louis didn’t receive such great goaltending on their side. The Blues, however, did play physical and provided a solid forecheck. They registered 29 hits to Colorado’s 19. St. Louis went 0-2 on the power-play. This is something that’s become regular. No one expects a power-play goal anymore. That’s not good.
The club now has 79 points in 70 games played. They are now 4 points out of a playoff spot. With just 12 games remaining; Playoff hopes are really shrinking, but there’s still a chance that we may see the post-season. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible. Only time will tell.