The Colorado Avalanche gave Alexandar Georgiev a much needed night off. And with a rookie goaltender in net, the team buckled down defensively for a nice road victory.
Led by Bowen Byram, the Avalanche went into St. Louis and dominated from start to finish, coming away with a nice 4-1 win. Justus Annunen, called up on Friday, stepped into the net and played solid, with a lot of help from the defense. The team blocked a lot of shots for him and kept the Blues mostly to the outside.
The defense played strong without Josh Manson, who was a healthy scratch. The Avalanche are trying to ease him back in after missing so much time.
Byram set the pace offensively with two goals, while Valeri Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen added the others. Nathan MacKinnon, J.T. Compher, and Samuel Girard all chipped in with two assists.
Annunen finished with 19 saves on 20 shots.
Sammy Blais scored the only goal for the Blues.
After failing to create a lot offensively against the Wild, the Avalanche came out shooting in the first period against the Blues, registering 15 shots on net.
The Blues got the only powerplay chance of the period, but Annunen stood tall in net, stopping a few screened shots from the point.
After the Avalanche killed the penalty, they got cooking offensively, and Rantanen broke through after a mini-slump.
With under four minutes in the period, Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon worked some magic in the offensive zone. After a nice give and go up high, MacKinnon fed Rantanen for a one timer at the top of the circle. The Finnish winger fired it past Jordan Binnington for his 200th career goal. That would be the only goal of the period for either team.
In the second period, the Avalanche kept the momentum going.
Byram, who had a tremendous first period, kept pushing in the second. At 7:37, he jumped into the play and took a pass from Rantanen. After skating wide, he fired a shot under Binnington’s glove and into the back of the net, giving the Avalanche the two goal lead.
The Blues got one back towards the end of the period on a play that could have easily been called for too many men on the ice.
A Blues forward jumped on the ice and grabbed the puck before the player he was replacing had gotten off. That led to a rush for the Blues, where the Avs were discombobulated. Blais was left all alone, and the Blues cut the lead back to one before the intermission.
But ultimately, it did not matter, because the Avalanche came out in the third period determined to close the game out with a bang.
After failing to take advantage of their powerplays early in the game, they capitalized on two in the final period. Nichushkin scored just under three minutes in, deflecting a pass from Lehkonen into the back of the net.
With just over ten minutes left, Byram deposited his second of the night into the back of the net, blasting a one-timer past Binnington.
There was a slight scare for the team in the third period, however. Cale Makar, just back from a concussion, took an accidental hit to the head and left the bench temporarily. He did return, but this will be something to monitor heading into tomorrow’s game.
The Avalanche closed the game out with ease, keeping the Blues to the outside for the remainder of the game. The final buzzer sounded, and the the team left Enterprise Arena with a 4-1 victory.
There’s no rest for this Avalanche squad, however. They’ll be right back at it tomorrow afternoon at Ball Arena, taking on the Edmonton Oilers. The game starts at 1 PM MST.
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