Blues Bury the Avalanche- Tighten Hold on 1st Place

Jordan Kyrou tucks it in the net on a wrap-around goal. (Scott Rovak/NHL via Getty Images)

Colorado, 21-8-3, 2nd place in Central Division at St. Louis, 20-8-6, 1st place in Central Division

The top 2 teams in the Western Conference square off Monday night, as the Blues host the Avalanche.

St. Louis is coming off a historic win against the Blackhawks. Down 3-0 with 15:20 left, the Blues scored 4 consecutive goals to pull off an exhilarating comeback. It’s the only time in the history of the Blues that they came back from 3 goals down in the 3rd to win in regulation.

Colorado came in hot, having won 8 of their last 9 games, and they’re led by their young center Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon leads the Avalanche in goals (20) assists (30) and overall points(50).

The Blues have won their last 2, knocking off Vegas 4-2, and that epic comeback against Chicago Saturday night. St. Louis will be without Ivan Barbashev (upper body) and Carl Gunnarsson (arm) but will have Zach Sanford back in the lineup.

2 Central Division foes separated by just 1 point- both with Cup aspirations – clash in St. Louis. It’s the Avalanche and the Blues at Enterprise Center.

1st period

The Blues came out strong, controlling the puck and pressuring, which led to Jordan Kyrou being hooked in front of Avs’ goalie Philipp Grubauer. At 2:58 of the period St. Louis had their first power play, but they were unable to control the puck in the Colorado zone and couldn’t cash in.

Halfway through the period, it appeared that the Blues would have another power play when MacKenzie MacEachern was tripped behind the Avalanche goal by Calle Rosen. Somehow, the refs saw it differently, claiming that MacEachern embellished the trip. It was a highly questionable call, but nonetheless the teams would skate 4 on 4 for the next 2 minutes.

Near the end of the 4 on 4, Samuel Girard slalomed through the Blues defense and sent a sharp shot off the post. The Blues immediately headed up ice the other way with a 3 on 1, but Grubauer made the save on Jaden Schwartz.

Colorado could not get to their game, they had brief flashes of zone time and a few shots, but the Blues defense was stifling. There was very little open ice for the Avs, and anytime they went to make a pass there was a stick in the lane. Colton Parayko and Robert Bortuzzo also leveled some heavy hits on any Avs player with the puck.

Blues pressure leads to 1-0 lead

All the Blues pressure paid off with a little under 2 minutes left in the period. David Perron somehow kept the puck in the Colorado zone, holding off a defender and puck handling with one hand on his stick. Perron found Ryan O’Reilly in the middle of the ice. O’Reilly made a move around a defender and nearly lost the puck, but he gathered it in and found Perron at the right of the goal with a perfect cross-ice pass. Grubauer had no chance as Perron buried the puck into the wide-open net. Oskar Sundqvist had the secondary assist on the play.

The Blues controlled the 1st, outshooting the Avalanche 15-6.

2nd period

It seems the Avs weren’t thrilled with their effort in the 1st, because they came out smoking in the 2nd. Just 55 seconds in, Nazem Kadri tied it up at 1. The Avs won the faceoff in the Blues zone and Ryan Graves sent a great pass cross-ice to Kadri, who one-timed the puck past Jordan Binnington.

A minute later Colorado nearly took the lead. Valeri Nichuskin had a clear breakaway on Binnington, but the Blues’ goalie calmly held his ground and just got a piece of the shot with his right arm. Colorado had the Blues on their heels in the first 4 minutes, outshooting St. Louis 5-0 with multiple chances.

At 8:24, the Avalanche would have their 1st power play when Alexander Steen went to the box for hooking Mark Barberio behind the Avs’ net. Mikko Rantanen beat Binnington with a top-shelf one-timer, assisted by Nathan MacKinnon and Samuel Girard.

4 minutes later, Robert Bortuzzo got his stick up high after a good hit on Tyson Jost, giving Colorado another power play. By this time, the momentum was fully on the side of the Avalanche. But despite extended o-zone time and prime chances, the Blues held firm. With about 4 minutes left in the period, the momentum would swing the other way, back to the Blues.

4-minute minor leads to 2 St. Louis goals

With a little over 4 minutes left in the period, the Blues started to get their skates back under them. St. Louis got back to their forecheck and started to get some offensive zone time. Soon after, Nazem Kadri whacked Parayko hard on the chin with his stick, drawing blood and a double minor.

Although the Blues had been 0 for their last 13 power plays, you wouldn’t know it by the way they attacked. After Grubauer made a couple of great saves on Brayden Schenn and Perron, the Blues broke through.

Alex Pietrangelo found David Perron in the left circle. Perron quickly settled the puck down and rifled it over Grubauer’s right shoulder, making it 2-2 and giving the Blues and the crowd some life. As a bonus,  Perron’s goal came before the first minor penalty expired, meaning the Blues had another 2 minutes on the power play to try to take the lead.

And take the lead they did. In a textbook display of skating and passing, Vince Dunn swerved through the Colorado D toward the net, finding Tyler Bozak to Grubauer’s left. Bozak sent the puck right back to Dunn who had a yawning right side of the net that he did not miss. Dunn and Bozak’s give and go made it 3-2 Blues at the end of the period.

3rd period

The 3rd was all Blues. From the opening face-off, they were all over Colorado. St. Louis had great chances from Justin Faulk, Bozak, Schenn, Sundqvist, and O’Reilly- but Grubauer kept the Avs in the game as long as he could.

With the ice seemingly tilted toward the Avs zone, Jordan Kyrou read a pass from a Colorado defenseman and stepped in front of it. Kyrou turned on the jets, sped through the Avs D and behind the Colorado net. Kyrou’s wrap around was tucked inside the right post seemingly before Grubauer could even look his way. The unassisted goal came at 11:24 and was Kyrou’s 1st of the year and 2nd of his career.

Hats off to David Perron

With the Blues owning a 2 goal lead and time running out, Colorado coach Jared Bednar pulled his goalie with 4:13 left in the game. After Binnington made a tough save, the puck was loose out front. O’Reilly made a diving pass to Sundqvist who found Perron along the right boards. Perron sent a shot toward the unattended goal from just outside the blue line that found the back of the net to make it 5-2. Perron had a hat trick and the Blues had their 3rd straight victory.

As time wound down, just before the crowd started singing along to John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads,” a loud “Kroenke sucks!” chant could be heard for a good 30 seconds. Stan Kroenke is the owner of the Avalanche and the Los Angeles Rams. He’s despised in St. Louis for running off to L.A. with the Rams and making disparaging comments about St. Louis while doing so.

For one night at least, the city of St. Louis would exact some revenge.

Summary and Notes

Perron’s hat trick was the 5th of his career.

The Blues have now won 6 in a row against Colorado.

The comeback win from being down 2-1 was the Blues’ 13th come from behind victory of the season- tops in the NHL.

St. Louis was flat-footed for much of the 2nd period, but really dominated the 1st and 3rd- especially the 3rd. The Blues’ hard-hitting defensive system played well against the fast skating Avs, clogging passing lanes and not giving Colorado much open ice. The Blues’ advantage in physical play was glaring.

Next up: St. Louis hosts the Edmonton Oilers at Enterprise Center Wednesday night at 8:30 eastern.

 

 

 

 

 

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