Avalanche turns soft as butterscotch pudding with chance to hammer St. Louis out of NHL playoffs

Stanley Cup champions are ice cold.

In a 4-5 overtime loss as Colorado spat out a three-goal lead and failed to eliminate St. Louis from the NHL playoffs, the Avs were as soft as butterscotch pudding.

What was revealed Wednesday night that should have been a hat-tossing celebration of Nathan MacKinnon as the world’s most successful electro hockey player?

As talented as the Avs are, they haven’t learned how to close deals. When they should have been the hammer, they were the nail. That goes for everyone, including coach Jared Bednar, who didn’t keep his foot on the gas when Colorado had a chance to end that best-of-seven streak in Game 5.

“You’re either the hammer or the nail,” said Bednar, who bemoaned the Avalanche’s inability to sustain their offensive aggression when playing with a late lead.

Over the course of the final 13 minutes and 41 seconds of the third period and overtime, which ended when St. Louis fourth-line grinder Tyler Bozak was confused and Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper with a goal just inside the blue line, the Avalanche, defeated, was outplayed 4-1 by a team that should have been sent to the lake for the summer.

“It’s character and leadership. We have a lot of character in this room. This team has been falling behind in games quite a bit this year, so they’re not giving up,” said St. Louis coach Craig Berube, belatedly addressing Blues fan hatred of Colorado’s Nazem Kadri as the Avs won two games in a row in Missouri.

Talk about adversity building the fight in a champion if it makes you feel better. But squandering a big lead is simply unacceptable on the home ice on a night where MacKinnon scored a hat-trick, including a coast-to-coast goal late in the third period that conjured up Wayne Gretzky magic.

“Sometimes you get a little heeled,” MacKinnon said. He was the only Colorado player who couldn’t be accused of glancing at the scoreboard clock and hoping the St. Louis time was up.

With St. Louis goalie Ville Husso on the bench, the Blues sent the game into overtime when Colorado defender Cale Makar and Kuemper both failed to find the loose puck in the goal mouth, allowing Robert Thomas to equalize with just 56 seconds before in a huge party should break out in the ball arena.

“Playoff hockey isn’t supposed to be easy,” Landeskog said.

Landeskog had a chance to end the game with the puck on his racquet, Blues defenseman Justin Faulk approaching and an empty St. Louis net in front of him late in the rule.

“We just couldn’t do it,” said Landeskog.

You’re either a hammer. Or butterscotch pudding.

With the Avs inexplicably playing on their heels for much of the third half, they needed Kuemper to save them from an implacably desperate St. Louis team.

Put simply, if Colorado needs Kuemper to stand on its head to win the trophy, we’ll all cry into our beers. He’s not Patrick Roy. No one will ever christen him Saint Darcy. With another loss in this series, the Avs could officially have a keeper controversy, which is a place no team wants to get into the pressure of a Game 7.

Bednar has insisted the Avs play St. Louis and not the second-round curse that has knocked his team out of the playoffs year after year.

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