The St. Louis Blues open their season against the Colorado Avalanche in the mile high city. Blues and Avalanche are big division rivals, and generally create some exciting games. Both of these teams are looking to make a deep run this season. The Avalanche come off a solid win against the Chicago Blackhawks and their new net minder Marc Andre-Fleury. Meanwhile the Blues play their first game this season, and are looking to avenge their series loss in the playoffs last year. Colorado was down Gabriel Landeskog due to a suspension, this was his first of two missed games. The Avalanche also played without star center Nathan MacKinnon due to COVID protocols.
Right from the puck drop it was clear the Blues had one thing on their mind, last year’s playoff series. Just forty seconds in, Brayden Schenn picked a fight with Nazem Kadri. Clearly this was in response to Kadri’s hit on Justin Faulk in the playoffs last year. The Blues could not do anything then as Kadri served a suspension and did not play the remainder of the series. After the initial scuffle was settled, the real play began. A few minutes later, the Blues opened the scoring with Faulk firing a shot from the point. He used Darcy Kuempers own defenseman as a screen and sent the puck to the back of the net. The remainder of the opening period was a back and forth battle. Neither team gave up ground and showed tremendous pace and ability to move the puck.
The second period began just like the first ended, neither team giving up ground. The ice finally opened up and Schenn broke past a defender after a great drop pass by Jordan Kyrou, and fired a shot that found the top corner of the net. During that play he took a stick to the hands. He pulled off his glove with no real goal celebration, and it could be seen his finger looked worse for ware. Making that goal even more impressive. After, David Perron joined in on the scoring for the Blues, firing a rocket from the top of the circle. Perron was a game time decision with an undisclosed injury, but it looked like a good decision to play. Andre Burakovsky of the Avalanche finally was able to answer the Blues. His one timer off the pass from Kadri found its way past Jordan Binnington.
Just about seven minutes into the third period, Perron got his second goal of the game. This time on the power play. Snapping a wrist shot from inside the right circle, he found the upper left of the net. Each team seemed to have no issues making it through the neutral zone, and the pace of play was nothing short of impressive. During a period of 4 on 4 play, Coach Bednar of the Avalanche pulled Kuemper to give them an extra skater. This move payed off as Tyson Jost got in front of the net and had the puck ricochet off his leg and in. This made the score now 4-2 in favor of the Blues, and the 4 on 4 play kept going.
That was just the beginning of a crazy last few minutes of the game. As the Avalanche gained back their skater, their goalie was once again pulled to give them an extra attacker. The Blues had just gained their man back, however J.T. Compher found a loose puck in the crease to knock in. This goal brought the Avalanche within one. Now just three minutes left, Kuemper wass pulled again after an icing call on the Blues. Soon the puck found its way in front of the net where Jost went to make a play and the puck slid in for a called goal. Upon further review, this equalizing goal was called off due to it being kicked in. Coming off the roller coaster of emotions, things fell apart for the Avalanche. Ryan O’Reilly broke away and got an empty net goal, making the final score of 5-3.
The Blues came in with a chip on their shoulder and they did what they had to do. They got back for what had happened on the ice last spring in the playoffs. They also got two big points in a division rivalry game. Sure, it got ugly for a minute, giving up two goals late and showing that you are vulnerable to a man advantage. However, that would be the least of concerns since they just beat the defending Presidents Cup winners. Being that this was the first game of their season, in a very hostile environment, they can come out with their heads held high. Next up they take on another divisional opponent in the Coyotes in Arizona.
It was clear the Avalanche were missing a key part of their offense in Landeskog. Even with him out, they were able to fight back and find the net on several occasions. Unfortunately for them, their defense slipped at times but those moments became costly. You can only rely on your goaltender for so much. With only eight blocked shots and leaving lanes open for forwards to break through, your goaltender can only stop so much. On top of the struggles on defense, the powerplay appeared to be non existent. Well, during an actual power play. Gaining a man with a pulled goalie helped them score two late but they went zero for three on actual power plays. This is where having Landeskog and MacKinnon would have made a massive difference. Next up the Avalanche will take on the Capitals on the road Tuesday night.
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