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Postgame Wrap-Up: Resilience in St. Louis

Avalanche gains a point after rally in third period

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

ST. LOUIS--Two points were the goal, but the Colorado Avalanche will take the one it earned as the club continues it push for the postseason.

The Avs rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to force extra time but lost 3-2 in a shootout at the St. Louis Blues on Monday. The point gained extended Colorado's lead for the Western Conference's second wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"A little inconsistency today. First period wasn't great and then second period and last period we played unbelievable," said Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Colorado now has 86 points, two up on the ninth-place Arizona Coyotes. Both clubs have three outings remaining and will be in action on Tuesday when the Avalanche hosts the Edmonton Oilers and the Coyotes face the Los Angeles Kings.

"It was a huge point," said Alexander Kerfoot of the result. "It's going to come down to the wire here, so we'll need every one we can."

The Avs had already set a new team record (since 1995-96) for third period tallies this year and added to it with two more in their comeback bid. The Avalanche has now scored 100 goals this season in the final frame of regulation; the previous mark of 96 set in 1996-97.

Gabriel Landeskog began the rally for Colorado after he deflected Patrik Nemeth's shot from the blue line 6:30 into the third stanza. It was his 34th marker of the season and the 20th to be scored in the third period, the most in the NHL this year.

The Avalanche captain then had the primary assist on the tying goal with 46.4 seconds left as his shot was tipped past St. Louis goaltender Jordan Binnington by Kerfoot. Landeskog, who missed nine games with an upper-body injury, now has three points (one goal, two assists) in his two games back in the lineup.

For Kerfoot, the goal extended his point streak to five games, setting a new career high. He has six points (two goals, four assists) during the stretch.

"It was kind of a desperation play," Kerfoot recalled. "The puck went out of the zone and guys did a good job regrouping quickly. I think it was kind of a blown up coverage by them a little bit. Gabe did a good job getting it to the net, and I just got a stick on it."

Colorado outshot St. Louis 24-12 in the final 45 minutes of play, but the team was not pleased with how it started the contest. The Blues came at the Avs fast and furious and had a 15-2 shot advantage after the opening 20 minutes of play.

"We knew we couldn't play much worse than we did," Kerfoot said. "You work all season to get to this point, four games left to go, that first period was unacceptable. We knew we had to turn it around, and we did a pretty good job with that."

Monday's game wrapped up the four-game season series between the Central Division foes. St. Louis won the yearly set, but three of the four games required overtime or a shootout to decide a winner.

Colorado's point earned extended its point streak to eight contests (6-0-2), the club's second-longest stretch of the season behind its 11-game run from Nov. 11 to Dec. 2 (9-0-2).


GROOVY GRUBAUER: The Avalanche's Philipp Grubauer started his eighth straight game in goal, extending his career high. He has a 6-0-2 record during this stretch.

Grubauer was busy in the first period as he made 14 of 15 saves. Overall, St. Louis attempted 29 shots in the frame.

"First period, our goalie kind of kept us in it," Bednar said. "I thought he did a nice job."

The netminder was coming off one of the best Marchs in the franchise annals, as he recorded a .955 save percentage in 11 games (10 starts). It was the best mark for the third month of the calendar year in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history, topping Patrick Roy's .952 save percentage set in 2003. Overall, Grubauer's save percentage in March was the second highest in any month during an NHL campaign, behind only Peter Budaj's .957 mark in December 2009.


CHALLENGE ACCEPTED: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar used his sixth coach's challenge of the season early in the opening period and was successful in keeping the game knotted at 0-0 in the early minutes.

Tyler Bozak found the back of the net 1:40 into the first period for St. Louis during a rush up the ice, but video review clearly showed that the Blues were offside during the zone entry, nullifying the marker.

Colorado is now 3-3 overall on challenges this season and 2-1 on offside calls.


BACK TO BACK: The Avs were playing the first half of a consecutive-night set, the 11th and final occurrence of the season for the squad. Colorado is now 5-3-3 in the first game and 4-3-3 in the second of back-to-backs.

The Avalanche wraps up its last back-to-back set on Tuesday at home against the Edmonton Oilers.

This is the fourth instance of the campaign that has Colorado playing on the road first before hosting a home game. The Avs last did such a trip on Dec. 14-15 when they played at St. Louis and then took on the Dallas Stars the next night in Denver.


SCOUTING THE OILERS: Tuesday's outings against the Oilers wraps up the Avs' three-game series against their former Northwest Division rival.

The teams have split the first two contests of 2018-19, with Colorado winning 4-1 on Nov. 11 at Rexall Place before Edmonton returned the favor in a 6-4 outing on Dec. 11 in Denver.

"I hope we're ready to go right from the drop of the puck," Bednar said. "We've been really good at home, playing our game right from the drop of the puck and trying to build a lead early. That's the mentality, we got to be aggressors in the hockey game tomorrow."

The Oilers, who will miss the playoffs for the second straight season, also played on Monday night. They lost 3-1 at the Vegas Golden Knights in a contest that started two hours after the Avalanche's one in St. Louis began.

Colorado forward Matt Nieto is expected to appear in his 400th NHL game on Tuesday.

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