For a minute, it looked like the Colorado Avalanche might blow another third period lead.
Okay, maybe more than a minute. More like 20.
But they held on, defeating the St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-2. They head into the All-Star break with 57 points in 48 games, and on a hot streak, winning seven of their last eight.
As with every game, you take the good with the bad, so time to take a look at the pluses and the minuses in the game against the Blues.
+++ Artturi Lehkonen’s Work Ethic
He might be listed at only 5’11”, but he doesn’t play like it.
His center lane drive on the game winning goal will not get him a point, but the goal simply doesn’t happen without it. By taking the defender, he did the grunt work to give MacKinnon a lane to pass to Rodrigues, and for Rodrigues to have so much time to bury the puck.
But in the third period, watching him battle with the much bigger Colton Parayko along the boards in the defensive zone was thoroughly entertaining. Parayko tried to back him down, and Lehkonen stood his ground, delivering cross checks to keep him from coming off the boards. It almost looked like it caught Parayko by surprise that he couldn’t just outmuscle the smaller Lehkonen. Moments later, the Avalanche turned it over and got the puck out, but Parayko might have been able to have his way if he was up against anyone else.
+ Alexandar Georgiev
Not only is Georgiev turning out to be a huge steal for the Avalanche in net, but he’s got some fight to him.
He spoke after the game that he was ready to “talk” to Binnington at center ice, and maybe more if it was necessary. The fans loved it, and I bet his teammates did as well. He didn’t like that the Blues had an extra guy in the scrum and wanted to get in there with his brothers. The refs didn’t allow it to happen, but you take notice of those things.
Oh yeah, and he made big saves late, including a nice glove stop on Kyrou with 15 seconds left.
– Another Third Period Turtle
The Avalanche weren’t quite as sloppy as they were on Thursday in the third period, but they didn’t look like a team that was trying to score.
This is a team who is at their best when they’re attacking with the lead, not letting the opposing team carry all the play. Remember the third period of Game six in the finals? The Lightning barely had the puck because the Avalanche kept coming.
They haven’t looked close to that team in third periods this week. Maybe part of that is no Nichushkin or Landeskog up front, but they need to get back to doing what they do best.
+ An Extended Break
The team has looked a little tired this week. They’ve played a lot of hockey in the last 12 months, and it’s starting to show. Although guys like Makar, MacKinnon and Rantanen are headed to the All-Star game, it’s still a break for them and they get some beach time. The rest of the guys could use some rest and relaxation, and when the team comes back, they probably will look a lot different with some injured guys returning.
It’s tough to go into a break on a hot streak, but the break, both physically and mentally, should be good for the squad.
+ Logan O’Connor
This man can’t score if his life depended on it right now, but he’s still playing great, with four assists in his last three games. His relentless effort in the first period helped create two goals. He had multiple chances to score, but couldn’t find the back of the net, but he led the team with eight shot attempts at even strength. Eventually things will start to go in.
– That Ben Meyers turnover
I don’t think Meyers was sent to the AHL after the game because of the turnover. They want him to keep playing games and get some confidence back offensively, but that turnover in the third period is one he’ll want to forget. Carrying the puck high into the offensive zone with a lead can be risky, especially when you’re the last man back. Next time in that situation, he’ll probably just want to dump the puck down low and live to fight another day.