DENVER — — The only thing Josh Manson could do near the blueline with players flying at him was to hold his ground.
He was that open, but from teammates charging towards him, not on the winning goal.
After recovering from an eye injury, Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves in his return to the Colorado Avalanche’s net in Game 1 of their second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. Thomas Manson scored his first career playoff goal 8:02 into overtime.
Manson just looked out as the group hug slammed into him. It was good to get that (victory) together.
Manson was the recipient of the puck after Gabriel Landeskog passed it to him down low. The defenseman then sent a liner through a sea of players that went just over the shoulder of Jordan Binnington.
After sweeping Nashville in a weeklong layoff, the Avalanche also had Nichushkin and Girard score. The Avalanche started slowly before finding their stride. A 54-25 margin, including 13-0 in OT, separated the Blues from the Reds. Two crossbars and three posts also fell to the Avalanche.
Landeskog, who scored two assists, admitted, “We were a really resilient group.”. “We just kept on playing, just kept on playing, just kept doing what we were doing. We created a lot and it’s just a matter of time.”. Manson came through for us and we hemmed them in.”.
St. Louis tied it in the third with a goal from Ryan O’Reilly in the first period. With a series of sprawling saves, Binnington kept the Blues close. NHL Stats indicates he stopped 51 shots in the playoffs, making him only the fourth goaltender in Blues history to record that many saves.
Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said, “He played unbelievable and gave us a chance to win.” “Their team is good.” Their speed is impressive. I thought we played well. This has been our season all season. I expect many close games to come.”
Game 2 is Thursday.
A stick blade went through Kuemper’s mask and caught him around his eyelid during Game 3 of the Predators series. The swelling subsided after several days.
“I thought he was good,” Jared Bednar said of the Avalanche coach. It was a great performance from him.
With 3:14 left, Kyrou tied the game on a power play. During the playoffs, the Blues have gone 9 for 27 on the power play.
Colorado took the lead with a goal by Girard that went through Binnington’s pads midway through the second period. A wide-open net provided a chance for Erik Johnson to score moments earlier, but he failed to get enough power on his shot. With his glove, Binnington stopped the puck from rolling while on the ground.
Cale Makar mishandled the puck early in the first period, allowing O’Reilly to score. Unlike any other Blues player, O’Reilly has scored a goal in five consecutive playoff games. NHL Stats reports he tied Phil Roberto (1972) and Joe Mullen (1982) for the most points in a season.
In the opening 20 minutes, the Avalanche looked underwhelming. Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri also hit the crossbar with their shots.
Despite his recent knee surgery, Landeskog pushed back against the rust argument.
To be honest, Landeskog said, “I think we played well.”
Since Game 4 of the 2001 conference finals, the Wild have beaten the Blues eight straight times in the playoffs. As a result of their playoff sweep of St. Louis last year, the Avalanche won the playoff series.
Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, did not fill out a playoff bracket.
Bettman, who attended the game Tuesday, said that if it were true, people would say bad things or question things they have no need to question. “I probably am not a very good prognosticator.”
Last season, Blues defenseman Justin Faulk was injured by Kadri in Game 2 and did not return. Colorado swept the series. As a result of the hit, Kadri served an eight-game suspension, missing the final two games against the Blues and all six against Vegas as Colorado was eliminated.
“We’re here to play hockey, and that’s our focus,” Faulk replied when asked if things were settled.
NOT FORGOTTEN, BUT GONE
The Avalanche sweater of O’Reilly is still worn by fans. In his career with the Avalanche, O’Reilly scored 90 goals in 427 games as the 33rd overall pick in 2009.
O’Reilly said that he enjoyed his time here. “I love seeing people appreciate what I do.”