The Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues locked horns again at Ball Arena in Denver Thursday night in Game 2 of their second-round Stanley Cup Playoff series. After the Avalanche outlasted a 51-save performance from Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington to secure an overtime win in Game 1, they took to the ice looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. The Blues had other ideas.
After being outshot and outplayed by the Avalanche in Game 1, the Blues came out with a ferocious intensity, playing a physical, smart brand of hockey to defeat the Avalanche, 4-1. The Blues outshot the Avs 32-31; the first time this postseason that a team outshot Colorado, who were averaging 46.0 shots per game (SOG) in their first five postseason contests, where their opponents are only averaging 27.4 SOG.
With the win, St. Louis has stolen home ice from Colorado. Here are three takeaways from the game.
Quiet Series for Avalanche’s Stars
Forward Nathan MacKinnon and defenseman Cale Makar were a two-man wrecking crew in their first-round series against the Nashville Predators. Makar had 10 points (three goals, seven assists) – the most by a defenseman through four games in any playoff year – and MacKinnon had six (five goals, assist). MacKinnon had 29 SOG in four games, with Makar notching 20 SOG.
The two superstars have combined for only two points against the Blues through two games (two assists by MacKinnon). However, MacKinnon has 11 SOG, and Makar has nine.
Mikko Rantanen, Colorado’s leading scorer during the regular season with 92 points, has yet to tally a goal in these playoffs. He does have seven assists, five against Nashville and two against St. Louis, but has had trouble finding the back of the net.
Avalanche fans will remember that the Vegas Golden Knights quieted Colorado’s top producers after the first game of their second-round series last season. In Games 2 through 6, MacKinnon had zero goals and two assists, and Makar had zero goals and three assists. Rantanen fared a little better, with three goals and one assist. Colorado’s big guns will need to make their presence known in Game 3 to prevent St. Louis from taking a 2-1 series lead and putting the Avalanche back on their heels.
The one bright spot among the Avalanche’s top players has been captain Gabriel Landeskog. After tallying six points against the Predators, Landeskog leads the team with three points over the first two games against the Blues, including Colorado’s lone goal in Game 2.
Perron Stays Hot in Playoffs and Against Avalanche
Blues forward David Perron, playing in his 100th playoff game, had two goals in the contest. He now has seven goals and four assists this postseason and leads the club in both goals and points.
Related: Perron is Blues Secret Weapon
The 33-year-old veteran’s career numbers against the Avalanche are gaudy. In 39 games, Perron has 34 points. That ranks second all-time among Blues players, eclipsed only by Hall-of-Famer Bernie Federko. At home, Perron has 20 points in 20 career starts, which is number one on the team. Colorado will need to find an answer for Perron to keep their hopes of advancing to the Western Conference Final alive.
Solid Goaltending at Both Ends
Jordan Binnington turned in another strong performance in Game 2, stopping 30 of the 31 shots. Among goalies who have started at least five games this postseason, Binnington has a league-leading 1.75 goals-against average (GAA), and a save percentage (SV%) of .948, which is second only to Jake Ottinger of the Dallas Stars – whose stellar performance almost allowed the Stars to steal their first-round series against the Calgary Flames.
Binnington’s performance flies in the face of history. His career numbers against the Avalanche are lackluster at best. In the regular season, he had a 7-8-0 record with a .895 SV% and a 3.27 GAA. In the postseason, Binnington is now 1-6-0 versus Colorado, with a .924 SV% and a 2.85 GAA.
At the other end of the ice, the final score was not reflective of the performance turned in by Avalanche netminder Darcy Kuemper. One of the four St. Louis goals was into an empty net, and two of the others were from shots that deflected off the sticks of Avalanche defensemen. Sam Girard redirected a shot by Jordan Kyrou, and Josh Manson tipped a shot by Perron, both resulting in the puck changing direction late. Otherwise, Kuemper made a series of impressive saves early to keep his team in the game.
The series now shifts to St. Louis, where the two teams will face off again on Saturday night at Enterprise Center. All pressure will be on Colorado in Game 3, as the club tries to get back on track and collect their first series win in the second round since the 2001-02 season.
Hockey dad, beer league hockey captain, rabid Avalanche fan. Author of five novels for young adults, including The Scar Boys, Life in a Fishbowl, and Hard Wired. Lives in Littleton, Colorado with two middle school-age kids, one awesome wife, and three pets. Voted least likely to break 100 on a golf course.