The St. Louis Blues pulled off a rather impressive win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the series. They needed to not have an emotional overload the way they did in Game 3 against the Minnesota Wild.
Initially, that seemed to be just the case. The Blues came out with energy, but contained energy.
They were not trying to end the game in the first five minutes. That served them well.
St. Louis had the first four shots on goal and were keeping Colorado quiet. The Blues also gained momentum when Ivan Barbashev lit up the crowd with a punishing hit on Sam Girard.
Unfortunately, Girard had to go to the hospital for an upper body injury. Nevertheless, the Blues took advantage of a slightly off kilter Avs team.
Colton Parayko unleashed a slap shot that actually broke the defender’s stick and snuck inside the far post. The Blues took a 1-0 lead and were dominating to that point.
Alas, nothing can last forever. Nazem Kadri fell into a Blues defender and both of them fell on Jordan Binnington, who got injured and had to leave the game.
The Avs scored on their next big chance. What was a very close play to offside, became a two-on-one for Colorado and they tucked it around the cold goaltender.
The second period was pretty much a slog. Neither team did much of anything overall.
There was the odd chance here or there, but it was few and far between. St. Louis could have gained some momentum off a power play and did ding one off the post, but Colorado came out the better.
Pavel Buchnevich took a silly interference penalty on the power play. Enemy number one, Kadri, deflected the shot from the point for a 2-1 Avalanche lead.
The Avs increased their lead awhile later. The Blues had an opportunity just prior and put it over the net, leading to a two-on-one where Ville Husso was beaten to the short side on a shot he has to save.
The Blues didn’t give up. Jordan Kyrou almost knocked one in on a partial breakaway and then Vladimir Tarasenko had a good look, but neither got one.
It seemed like the Avs would take a two-goal lead to intermission, but the captain said hold on one second. Ryan O’Reilly knocked one in with less than 30 seconds left to make it 3-2.
St. Louis was inches away from tying it. The puck just escaped Brandon Saad, so the Blues had to be ok with a 3-2 score after 40 minutes.
The third period was more fun, but a lot more dangerous. It was a lot of back and forth play with each team generating some very good chances.
The Blues had a great look three minutes in. Colorado got denied on some good back checking plays, in particular one by Calle Rosen, who made up for a turnover with about six minutes left.
The Blues kept pressing, but possession was becoming harder to come by. The Avalanche were defending quite well and the Blues were making mistakes.
That would cost them in the end. When Husso tried to get to the bench for the extra attacker, the Blues could not hold it at the blue line.
Husso tried to skate backward to get back in net. It was a two-on-one though and the Avs easily cashed in for a 4-2 lead.
The Blues had a solid look with Tarasenko on the near side, but the Avs got the puck out again. A little backhand from the far boards went into another empty net and Colorado won 5-2 and took a 2-1 series lead.
Cons: Puck strength
The Blues played a reasonably good game, considering the adversity they faced. Nevertheless, they were lackadaisical with the puck at times.
Not to single him out, but Robert Thomas could have had two breakaways in the first period if he was strong on his stick. He made good plays to knock a pass away, but then either had his stick lifted or the puck jabbed away instead of going off to the races.
Kyrou was the same, minus the breakaway chances. There were several instances where the Blues gave up possession because of a little jab that should not have worked.
The Avs played a solid game overall. However, the Blues just weren’t quite on point and their possession decisions were an example of that.
Just look at the empty net goals. The ice is crowded six on five, but you have the extra man. It was far too easy for Colorado to get past their defensive blue line.
Pros: Parayko’s shot
Don’t get your hopes up. This one is not going to become the rule. It’s still the exception.
That said, what a shot from Colton Parayko. That was the kind of shot that Blues fans have been dying for.
I’ve reached the point where comparisons to Al MacInnis are not apt any longer. It’s shots like that that show why they existed in the first place.
The guy just unleashed a bomb from inside the blue line. Modern sticks break a lot more than the wooden ones, but it is still impressive to just shatter the thing with a shot.
The Blues need him to have that confidence.
Cons: Binnington’s injury
Listen, if you want to blame Kadri for this and call him a dirty player, you go right ahead. You won’t get an argument from me, but I won’t be on your side either.
Kadri’s reputation makes this look worse. Overall, I think it was just an overzealous player going for a loose puck and the Blues pay the price.
With that in mind, I did not like how the team responded afterwards. I don’t need anyone to take a run at Kadri or the Colorado goaltender.
I want the team to show fire and get behind Husso. The Blues seemed to shrink from the occasion.
There was less intensity. That poor goal that Husso feinted to the middle, leaving the blocker side open really cost St. Louis too.
I don’t blame Husso for this loss. That’s still a save he needs to make.
He has to bounce back now. I seriously doubt Binnington returns this series, but I’ve been wrong before.
This series has been kind of odd. The final scores have not been completely indicative of the games themselves.
Game 1 was not as close as a 3-2 OT score would suggest. Game 2 was a very good performance by the Blues, but they were not as dominant as some suggested on social media.
Along the same lines, this game was not a three-goal game. Statistically it is, of course, but the Blues were in it right until the end.
If Husso doesn’t allow that one, maybe it’s a different story. However, nobody should think the Blues really deserved to win either.
They were a little soft in possession and forced to the outside far too much. On the flip side, they created chances and had every opportunity to win, which they probably would have if they connected with one another the same way they did in Game 2.
St. Louis just needs to rally in the next one. At their best, I think St. Louis is actually a better playoff team than Colorado.
However, it’s hard to be at your best every minute of every game and the Avs take advantage of those little gaps. Rally around Husso and play good hockey, to borrow a phrase from Dick Vermeil.
Win Game 4 and it’s all good. Take another loss and the series might be over quick. Let’s hope for the former.