In the season’s finale with nothing to play for, the last-place Colorado Avalanche and playoff-bound St. Louis Blues treated the first period like a glorified game of shinny in the preseason. With one of the lowest event first periods imaginable, neither team appeared interested in scoring until the final minute when Blues forward Zach Sanford put the scouting report to use and put a puck past goaltender Calvin Pickard on the short side, consistently his Achilles heel this season.
The goal came with just 23 seconds remaining in the period and was a result of a lazy icing by Tyson Barrie moments before. The Blues took their one-goal lead and a paltry 6-3 shot advantage into the first intermission.
The second period was about as different as it could have been, with the Avalanche registering a whopping 16 shots on goal and the Blues throwing 10 of their own at Pickard. Colorado’s scoring began with a Francois Beauchemin bomb from the point that was tipped in front and past goaltender Jake Allen at 4:03. While replays appeared to show the puck deflecting off a Blues’ stick, the goal was credited to Mikko Rantanen, his 20th of the season.
Rantanen wasn’t done, however, as he muscled his way to the front of the St. Louis net after an extended offensive cycle and he outworked three Blues players and put a wrist shot from point-blank range past Allen, giving Colorado the lead heading into the season’s final frame.
The start of the third period was a great reminder of why the Avalanche have fewer points than several NHL clubs have wins this season as they came out completely flat, took a penalty, and then started getting scored on. Vladimir Sobotka, playing in his first game since returning from the KHL, took a great no-look pass from Jori Lehtera and Beauchemin provided zero resistance in front of the net and Sobotka tied it just 3:20 into the period.
The Blues weren’t done as Vladimir Tarasenko got in on the action as he played one-man army and circled the Avs zone with the puck before finding a little space and beating Pickard high on the short side and just 4:39 into the third period a one-goal lead turned into a one-goal deficit for the NHL’s worst team. The lead held up despite two late Avalanche power plays and Colorado’s season finally ended.
1. Vladimir Sobotka
2. Mikko Rantanen
3. Vladimir Tarasenko
PLAY OF THE GAME
Rantanen’s second goal was the stuff of hockey player legend as he went into beast mode and outworked everyone in the vicinity for the goal.
Tarasenko’s goal completed the all-too-easy comeback against a pathetic Avs team that gave up months ago.
BY THE NUMBERS
Summer time. The NHL Draft Lottery, Colorado’s next important date, is April 29.