The energy ran high as the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues faced off at Ball Arena. Colorado held a 3-1 series lead and it felt like tonight could be the night they ended things for the Blues and advanced to the Conference Finals. The streak was marked by serious injuries and subsequent racial attacks on Colorado forward Nazem Kadri. But with the support of the crowd, the Avalanche had an opportunity to clinch a big win on their home ice.
The first period
Colorado hit the ice with intensity, moved the puck and immediately took control of the game. They were able to create a few chances to score, which unfortunately came to nothing. That was until a pass from Artturi Lehkonen at 3:51 connected with Nathan MacKinnon propelling him into goal. This was MacKinnon’s sixth goal in the playoffs and his first of the series.
MacKinnon wasn’t messing around. He was persistent with the forecheck, keeping the momentum going and driving the crowd. Colorado had to take the penalty shootout after Lekhonen was called out for interference, but they successfully killed him and denied the Blues a goal. When Colorado got a power play after Robert Bortuzzo held Darren Helm’s stick, MacKinnon didn’t want to waste it and threw the puck over Husso’s shoulder and inside.
The second period
The Avalanche started the second period with a 2-0 lead on the power play. Soon after, they were back at penalties, which would become a theme of the game. It felt like both teams were trading penalties back and forth. They ended the Blues’ second power play and the third goal of the night came from Gabriel Landeskog after a Devon Toews pass.
Things started to slip for the team after that goal. Despite being back on the power play after a high stick from Kadri, they couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage. Chaos ensued in front of the avalanche net, and with no one able to control the puck, Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Blues.
The third period
Even though the Blues scored in game two, it felt like the Avalanche still had control of the game. They had a two lead and as long as they could hold that lead they would end the series tonight. It wasn’t until almost halfway through the third period that the next goal came from the Blues’ Robert Thomas. The Avalanche let their lead slip and a Justin Faulk goal at 15-14 tied the Blues to three.
MacKinnon regained his energy and scored a hat trick, the second for Colorado players in consecutive games after Kadri’s in St. Louis. They took the lead again but less than two minutes later Thomas scored his second goal for the Blues. The game was a tie and would go into overtime.
It was almost impossible to reconcile the fact that this game was going into overtime with the energy the Avalanche had brought into the first period. Somehow they’d lost it along the way, missing passes and giving away the puck at crucial moments.
It was the Blues who prevailed in overtime after Tyler Bozak scored at 3:38. A bitterly disappointing ending for the Avalanche, which forces Game 6 in St. Louis.
This loss really hurts. No loss is particularly fun, but this one in particular feels unnecessary and careless. The Avalanche had a win in sight until they gave up a string of goals that forced the game into overtime. It would have hurt less and felt less frustrating if it had been an even game from the start. To lose like that after dominating for so long is disheartening.
It’s not ideal that they return to St. Louis. Don’t underestimate the hostility of the crowd there. The Avalanche didn’t let it get to them in game 4 and they need to stay on top of it in the next game.
The positive is that they still have the series lead. The Blues need to win both of their next games if they want to defeat the Avalanche, while Colorado needs just one win to advance to the Conference Finals. I think the team has what it takes when they play the game they are capable of and don’t let the Blues control what’s happening on the ice. We know they are capable and can do it. We have to hope they come out with the same intensity as tonight in the next game and stick with it rather than letting it fade away as the game progresses.
Game 6 takes place Friday night at 6pm MT on TNT in St. Louis.