Following a scoreless first two periods of play, the Colorado Avalanche fell 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center on Saturday after allowing three goals in the final frame.
Through 40 minutes, the Blues had a 25-19 advantage in shots, but the Avs had a 21-12 edge in hits. The game remained close until a Vladimir Tarasenko wrist shot broke the scoreless tie at 4:01 of the stanza, and St. Louis added another tally 57 seconds later to extend the lead.
"At least for two-plus periods, it was a really tight checking game on both sides of it," said head coach Jared Bednar. "[Nathan MacKinnon's] unit played a lot against (Ryan) O'Reilly, which is the way we wanted it, same kind of matchup deal we did the other night against the Jets.
"Both of those lines holding each other to nothing for most of the game. Obviously, the Tarasenko goal was the tiebreaker in that matchup… Tight-checking game. We make a couple mistakes, one in the D-zone and one in the offensive zone, give up an odd-man rush--that is the difference in the hockey game."
Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 of the 32 shots that he faced, including 14 in the opening period and 11 in the middle frame.
"I thought he was good, he was really good… I thought we did a really nice job checking, but Varly came up with some big saves on a couple different sequences tonight to keep the game at 0-0, as did (Blues netminder Jake) Allen," Bednar said. "They had a few more flurries, or at least it looked like more dangerous plays, but no question that he made some saves at the other end too to keep it 0-0. The goalies were good."
Colorado outshot the Blues 13-8 in the third period and had some good chances but could not find the back of the net.
"At the end of the day you have to score a goal or two to win the game," said Bednar. "I really liked the way we checked for the most part and some of our matchups. It was good, but it wasn't good enough."
The Avalanche is now 0-1-2 against the Blues and the final matchup of the season series will take place on April 1 in St. Louis.
PENALTIES KILLED: For the second straight game, the Avalanche was perfect while killing penalties.
Colorado went 3-for-3 while shorthanded against St. Louis and limited the Blues to just three shots on goal during those chances after going 4-for-4 on Thursday at the Winnipeg Jets.
"Our penalty kill now, after hitting the reset button and going through some things and making some significant changes to it just to give our guys something different to focus on, has not allowed a power-play goal in two straight games against two really good power plays," said Bednar. "I'd like to see us keep winning that and seeing our power plays step up and get to where it was early in the year, and tonight it just wasn't."
DAY TIME MATCHUPS: The Avalanche is now 3-3-2 in afternoon games this season, including a 1-2-0 record in matinee contests at Pepsi Center.
Overall, Colorado is scheduled for 13 afternoon games this season (5 p.m. start time or earlier), its most since 2002-03 when it had 15. The Avs' next day game will be a 3:30 p.m. MT puck drop at the Nashville Predators on Feb. 23.
LOOKING AHEAD: Colorado's three-game homestand also includes an outing on Monday against the Vegas Golden Knights and a matchup with the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.
The Avs opened a stretch that has them playing nine of 10 games against Western Conference teams on Thursday in Winnipeg with a 4-1 win. During the span, five of those games are also against Central Division opponents.
"I think we played a really good game in Winnipeg and the standings are very tight and every game matters," said Colorado forward Carl Soderberg. "I think we played hard today, we didn't win, but we have to get back at it on Monday."
The Avalanche is currently three points behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild-card spot in the west.