The Denver Post
Former Colorado player nets his 600th point in sending ex-team to 3rd-straight loss
Nathan MacKinnon pinpointed the problem without much insight. The Avalanche weren’t finding footing long enough to fall into a rhythm. “The lines haven’t been creating a ton of chances,” Colorado’s top-line center said this week. “There’s not really any flow 5-on-5.”
By the time St. Louis’ Paul Stastny waltzed in for a milestone goal in the second period of the Blues’ 4-3 victory Thursday night at the Pepsi Center, the Avs were tripping over their feet. It took them nine marathon minutes into the second period to finally find a shot on goal.
Mikko Rantanen’s open-net goal with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game seemed to tie the game at 4-4. But a coach’s
challenge by the Blues showed, on video review, that Sven Andrighetto was offside before he keyed a rush from the left side. The goal was overturned.
“Guys upfront played their hearts out,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “But a couple boneheaded plays. A couple guys who did not show up.”
Bednar yanked winger Nail Yakupov to the doghouse for poor play. J.T. Compher broke his thumb. Tyson Jost and Patrik Nemeth suffered lower-body injuries. And the Avs finished short-handed. Colorado (4-4-0) fell back to even for the second time this season, losing a third consecutive game and missing a prime opportunity to take advantage of a drained Blues team (6-2) playing on the back end of back-to-back nights.
On Tuesday, the Nashville Predators turned a one-goal deficit to the Avs into a blowout by scoring three goals in the second period. On Thursday, the Blues banged them for the same.
Stastny scored 160 goals and 458 points over eight seasons with the Avalanche before bolting for the Blues in 2014. On Thursday, he hit an exceptional bar. His goal in the second period gave him 600 career points, joining his uncle Anton and hall-of-famer father Peter — both of whom played for the Quebec Nordiques — to reach the milestone mark.
“It’s funny how the world works like that,” Paul Stastny said between periods. “It’s coming full circle.”
It was one of Stastny’s easier goals. After Colorado winger Rantanen lost the puck to Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, it turned into a slow and steady St. Louis rush. Pietrangelo pushed the puck to Stastny, who glided down the right side to flip and easy shot past Avs goaltender Jonathan Bernier’s stick side.
Just 39 seconds into the second period, St. Louis tied the game. Midway through the period, within 52 seconds, the Blues put up two more tallies.
Jaden Schwartz, whose hat trick Wednesday gave the Blues a 5-2 blowout win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, put a rebound past Bernier after Pietrangelo’s slapper from the point hit Bernier in the chest. Then Vince Dunn, a third-line Blues defender, slashed through the circles on a diagonal, took a pass from Stastny and slinked a goal to the far side.
“A handful of a shifts in the second, we made poor decisions and we weren’t competitive enough on the puck in the D-zone,” Bednar said. “And they got their scoring chances out of it. Those handful of plays are what cost us.”
The Blues scored three goals in a span that saw the Avs put up just one shot on goal. Colorado could not find any way to threaten.
The Avs’ did find a lone early flurry on a power play in the first. After Pietrangelo got nipped for tripping Rantanen, the Avs blitzed the Blues on the game’s first power play. They ripped off five shots at goaltender Carter Hutton, pegging his pads from between the circles.
Rantanen camped out beside the net and twice teed up J.T. Compher for slapshots. Twice they were turned away. But the third fell to the feet of Alexander Kerfoot, centering a line for the first time this season, for an easy rebound goal to Hutton’s glove side.
“The power-play goal sparked us and we came alive,” Bednar said.
Black Comeau scored on an open net after Hutton got pinned in the corner under his own defender, Robert Bortuzzo, to cut the Avs’ deficit to 3-2. But Bortuzzo scored the insurance goal.