Avalance Take Series Lead after Physical, Injury Ridden Game 3

After a lackluster performance by the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2, they needed to come out and make a quick statement. It didn’t appear they got that message. Less than two minutes into the game, Colorado Defenseman Samuel Girard took a vicious hit behind the Avalanche net that left him lying on the ice. He was taken to a local area hospital where he was treated for an upper body injury. There was no immediate response from the Colorado bench, however moments after the resulting faceoff, there was a skirmish in front of the benches. St. Louis came out making a statement that this was going to be a physical game and found the back of the net just 3:55 into the first period to go ahead 1-0. This shot is the third to ricochet off a Colorado player and into the net, the other two coming in Game 2. This is the third game in a row the Blues have been the first to light up the score board.

            Coming back and winning after falling behind 1-0 is a difficult feat, with only 9% of teams accomplishing this task on average. Colorado defied the odds in Game 1 but became a statistic in Game 2.

            The thing with hockey is that when you are in an intense game, the passion the players have often translate to physicality and fighting. Just as Colorado lost a defenseman earlier, St. Louis lost their starting goalie just 6:45 into the first period. With 9:03 left in the first, the Avalanche finally showed some signs of life by sinking the puck and tying the game up at 1 almost immediately after killing a Blues power play.

             Entering the second period, it was clear this game had the potential to be an all out dog fight between the two sides. The physical exchanges along the boards continued, and halfway through the period created a one man advantage for the Blues as Colorado was called for holding.

            Immediately following the Blues power play, Colorado went on a power play thanks to an interference call on the Blues. Just as the man advantage expired for Colorado, Cale Makar found his legs in the series and took a swipe at a one timer from just in front of the blue line. Even though it wasn’t intended for the net, it found the gap and went right past the goalie giving Colorado a 2-1 lead in the game.

            As the period continued, the teams fought back and forth as the Blues seemed to be fighting for their life. With under 4 minutes remaining in the 2nd period, Lehkonen was able to get a shot past the Blues back-up goalie on an assist from Kadri to put the Avalanche up 3-1. The Blues needed to do something to breath life back into the team and the fans. Wit 29.7 seconds left on the clock, Blues’ captain Ryan O’Reilly was able to sneak one in, bringing St. Louis within one to end the period at 3-2.

            Through the first half of the 3rd period, we didn’t really see any conservative hockey being played by the Avalanche. They were consistently in the Blues’ offensive zone taking shots and playing hard to increase their lead, while the Blues’ were fighting to stay alive in this game in front of their home crowd.

            The score remained 3-2 in favor of Colorado for a majority of the final period, until Captain Gabriel Landeskog got a chance at a wide opening and sunk it in to reignite the score board and make it 4-2 with just under 3 minutes left. This left the Blues no other option but to pull their goalie to gain a man advantage. While this added pressure to the Avalanche zone, it simply wasn’t enough. With just under 1 minute remaining in regulation, Lehkonen managed to get his second goal of the night by flinging it across the ice to an empty St. Louis net. This put the nail in the coffin and simultaneously gave Colorado a 2-1 lead in the series. Game 4 will be in St. Louis and if you wish to watch it, you can tune in to TNT on the 23rd at 8:30 PM.

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