Coming off of a 6-5 loss to a desperate Boston team on Friday night, the big question was how would the Blues handle another desperate team in Colorado. Granted the Aves haven't been playing well in the past ten games but with the playoffs still within their grasp you can never count out a desperate team. Good news for the Blues, though, someone forgot to tell Colorado they were still alive for a spot.
The Blues absolutely swarmed Semyon Varlamov peppering him with shots and thoroughly controlling play in the first. The pressure put on led to an early power play for the Blues as Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog would head off for delay of game.
Early in the advantage the Blues seemed really flat footed and allowed the Aves to bring the pressure into the Blues zone, even getting two good looks on net. Fortunately for the Blues, the youth of Colorado overplayed their hand and got caught with three guys in deep spring Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes for a two on one break. Backes set himself up beautifully to receive a pass from Vlad and just buried the puck into the back of the net for a quick 1-0 lead.
For only being a one goal deficit, falling behind seemed to almost put the Aves into a deep depression, kind of like being a Rams fan. The Blues, unlike past years, took hold of the throttle and just pushed it to full blast. Patrik Berglund would zip into the slot and had a wide open shot on net but was stymied by Varlamov. But the chances just kept coming.
Magnus Paajarvi would surprisingly get on the board after Troy Brouwer rounded up the puck along the wall and got it to Paul Stastny who fired it on net. Than Paajarvi threw on his Cloak of Invisibility, because NO ONE SAW HIM IN FRONT, and got THREE whacks at the puck before it slipped past Varlamov. Sometimes the unexplainable happens and thats Paajarvi scoring a goal.
But it didn't end there. Patrick Roy preached that the reason the team lost last week to the Blues was because of turnovers and they vowed to fix that problem. Well that did not happen, one turnover almost led to a goal as Jaden Schwartz would slip past the D and come in on a breakaway only to hit the post on his shot. More turnovers led to the Blues third goal of the period.
A turnover in the defensive zone led to an odd man rush led by Alex Steen. After a failed centering pass, the Blues would get the puck behind the net and Steen would find Colton Parayko storming in. A quick pass led to an even quicker shot that Varlamov never saw and it was 3-0 Blues.
The only thing that prevented this from being a perfect period was the two penalties at the end of the period which could have let Colorado back into the game but the Blues were able to kill off the first one with ease and the second would drag in to the next period.
The second period would start with not one but two new goalies in net, the Aves pulled Varlamov in favor of Calvin Pickard while the Blues brought in Anders Nilsson for Jake Allen. Varlamov was out not due to his play but to try and wake up Colorado. Nilsson, though, was an injury replacement as Allen seemingly suffered a lower body injury, effectively handing Brian Elliott the playoff starting position. I am not happy that Allen got injured but until we know the extent of the injury we need to reserve judgement on how badly to freak out. I want Elliott starting in the playoffs but I would feel much better with Allen backing up as opposed to Nilsson.
Nilsson would pick up right where Allen left off preserving the shutout for the time being. It also helped that the Blues kept scoring. Off an offensive zone faceoff, Alex Pietrangelo would get on the board as his shot seemed to deflect a bit of Francois Beauchemin's glove and past Pickard for the 4-0 lead.
The game seemed to settle down a bit after that as the teams each had some decent chances but nothing really came of them. The physicality started to ramp up just a touch as Parayko and Cody McLeod would jostle a little bit after the whistle earning them a trip to time out. Both new goalies looked locked in for coming in cold and it seemed like both teams were resigned to the fate of this game.
The next big excitement happened midway through the 3rd period when Parayko and Landeskog would drop the gloves for an improbable fight, the crowd got fired up and it did lead to Colorado finding a little jump in their skates but it was a little to late.
The lone highlight for Colorado was when Matt Duchene would deflect in a Mikkel Boedker shot to give him 30 goals. That 30th goal was a new career high for Duchene and made him the first 30 goal scorer for Colorado since 2005-06 when Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic completed the feat.
Being down 3 meant that Colorado was close enough to pull their goalie even with 4 minutes remaining in the game, Colorado had to win tonight to realistically have a shot at the playoffs. Troy Brouwer effectively ended that dream when his empty net goal with just under 3 minutes stretched the lead back out to 4 goals.
This was the perfect way for the Blues to bounce back after the loss to Boston and if Dallas loses against Anaheim could be pivotal in the race for the top spot in the West. The Blues have Arizona tomorrow night before wrapping up in Chicago and home against Washington. At the very least it gives us a 4 point cushion over Chicago for home ice in round 1,
#3 - Magnus Paajarvi: 1 goal and maybe breaking the Paajarvi Curse?
#2 - Vladimir Tarasenko: 2 assists, and almost another on a sweet one touch pass to Steen in front
#1 - Colton Parayko: 1 goal, 1 fight and almost a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, quietly one of the best young defensemen in the game.