The St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche are now split with two home wins each. It’s quite a different picture from the Blues’ sweep of the Avalanche last season. Although they’re division rivals and should have a heated presence when they play each other, they actually don’t. Neither team acquired a fighting penalty in any of their contests. Their playing style is similar and respect for each other is mutual.
First Matchup at the Enterprise Center
The Blues outshot the Avalanche by seven in their first game of the 2019-20 season on Oct. 21. Their 3-1 win put an end to the Avalanche’s eight-game point streak. “For us, it was more about us than about them. To be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered if they had their ‘A’ game or their ‘C’ game tonight,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “We just weren’t good enough and on a night like tonight, we’re not going to beat too many teams.”
The Avalanche allowed a power-play goal and scored one as well. The clubs split penalties at six each with two roughing penalties, one on each team. The goaltending was outstanding on both sides of the ice, keeping it a close contest.
Home-Ice Blues vs. Avalanche Part Two
Once again, the Blues outshot the Avalanche by seven in their second matchup on Dec. 16. They snapped a nine-game point streak for the Avalanche, who allowed two power play goals on a double minor penalty for high-sticking to Nazem Kadri.
The Avalanche lacked discipline and control and the Blues capitalized on that to earn the 5-2 win. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar felt his team played a solid half of the game but didn’t play a full 60 minutes.
Avalanche Take it Home
In the first game of the new year for both teams on Jan. 2, the Avalanche came into the contest with losses in their previous three games. The Blues, coming off a loss to the Coyotes, were focused on getting a W just as much as the Avs.
The Avalanche figured out how to get the Blues off their game and lit the lamp seven times with four points from Nathan MacKinnon. “They play so tight, and the only way to get them to loosen up a little is to get a lead,” MacKinnon said following the matchup. “Good play, good pressure.”
The Avalanche scored three power play goals in an undisciplined game for the Blues, who had two more penalties and 15 fewer shots on goal than their opponent.
Following Joonas Donskoi’s goal at 14:19 in the third, Blues goalie Jordan Binnington was pulled, and Jake Allen was put in to finish the game.
“We didn’t play a very smart game tonight, that’s the bottom line,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube told NHL.com independent correspondent Rick Sadowski. “You have to play good defense against this team and manage things, and we didn’t do it. We didn’t do it good enough.”
The Avalanche acquired momentum with the big win against the defending Stanley Cup champs, setting the stage for the next matchup to be at playoff level.
Blues Back in Denver
The Avalanche struck first with a goal by MacKinnon, but the Blues answered with a power play goal by David Perron late in the period. Tied up going into the second, the Blues took control with a quick, early goal by Oskar Sundqvist to put them up by one.
Turnovers and penalties gave the Avalanche the advantage and they took it, scoring three more in the second. Coach Berube pulled Binnington and replaced him with Allen after Andre Burakovsky put the Avs up by two.
The Blues battled back in the third with a goal from Alex Pietrangelo but it wasn’t enough to fire the team up for a comeback in the 5-3 loss. “They won the Stanley Cup last year, so they’re automatically going to be the measuring stick for every team that plays them,” Colorado defenseman Ian Cole said. “They had our number earlier in the year when we played a little loose, a little wide open, and they made us pay for it. We’ve made a conscious effort to get it together and play a little more connected.”
Clearly the home-ice advantage is an issue. Coach Berube recognized the difficulty playing in the Avs barn. “We come into here, it’s a tough place to play and they’re a very good team, I thought that we played a pretty solid game,” Blues coach Berube told NHL.com independent correspondent Rick Sadowski after the game. “We didn’t win, but our guys are dialed in.”
The Blues and Avalanche match-up one more time in the last game of the season. Considering the facts, the Avalanche have an edge as the game will be held at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The way both teams are playing there is no doubt it will be a prequel to a Stanley Cup playoff battle.
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