Fresh off a topsy turvy victory over the Buffalo Sabres two days ago, the Colorado Avalanche came into tonight's contest against the visiting St. Louis Blues riding a wave of confidence knowing they were square in the thick of the playoff race.
A scoreless first period would ensue but not without some entertaining hockey being played throughout. Each team saw time on the power play and while no goals were scored, plenty of quality scoring chances took place but goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Brian Elliott would set the tone for the game with sterling play in net.
The second period would be another competitive tilt with the Blues pushing the pace ever so slightly and a terrible puckhandling sequence by Carl Soderberg and his subsequent giveaway would open the door for Troy Brouwer to find Alex Steen on a one-timer goal that barely slipped between the pads of Varlamov. Steen's goal would provide the Blues with a 1-0 lead going into the third period.
An adventurous third period would see the Avalanche tie the game on a Carl Soderberg tap-in only to have the goal disallowed because the wrong official on the ice decided to randomly make the decision that he wanted to blow his whistle but did so too late. Thus, the "intent to blow" rule was enforced, wiping out the game-tying goal.
Not to be deterred, the Avalanche would eventually tie the game on a beautiful passing play from Tyson Barrie to Matt Duchene to Nathan MacKinnon, who slipped the puck into a mostly empty net as Elliott was slow moving side-to-side to send the game into overtime tied at 1.
The game wouldn't be decided in overtime but there were plenty of magnificent chances, including a sliding stop by Varlamov on Steen that probably should have ended the game. A Colorado power play the final two minutes of overtime didn't end in a goal for either side so Colorado got its first taste of the shootout this season, becoming the 30th team to participate in one.
Gabriel Landeskog's goal as the first shooter would hold up as the difference maker as both Elliott and Varlamov made a series of brilliant saves afterwards. The 2-1 win would go over to the Avalanche after Varlamov stopped Blues forward Troy Brouwer on St. Louis's third shootout attempt.
Varlamov's save on Steen kept the game alive for the Avalanche, who would eventually push the game to a shootout.
MacKinnon's game-tying goal is the easy answer here as without it, St. Louis goes home feeling good about itself with two points in its back pocket. Instead, MacKinnon tied the game against them for the second time this season and just like last time, Colorado would go on to get the victory.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"It could have been easy to panic and then be pissed off and find a zillion excuses to lose that game." - Head Coach Patrick Roy on his team after the controversial no-goal call early in the third
The win, like all of them at this point, is huge for the Avalanche as they move within one point of the Minnesota Wild for the top Wild Card spot. For those chasing them, the Avs are now three ahead of the Nashville Predators and four ahead of Arizona.
Colorado faces one of the toughest turnarounds imaginable as they hop on an airplane tonight and head to Dallas to take on a rested Stars team tomorrow night. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00PM MST.