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Rapid Recap: Avalanche 4, Blues 1 (Game 1)

Colorado tallies three times in third period to take early series lead

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Monday at Ball Arena in Game 1 of their first-round series in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche's top line of Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, assist), Gabriel Landeskog (goal, two assists) and Mikko Rantanen (two assists) all had multi-point outings, while Cale Makar also scored and Samuel Girard picked up an assist.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 22 saves, as Colorado outshot St. Louis 50-23

Makar began the scoring with a power-play marker with 4:45 left in the first period, but the Blues' Jordan Kyrou knotted the contest at 1-1 during a 3-on-2 rush up the ice at 16:31 of the middle frame.

The Avs tallied three times in the third period to take the lead and pull away from the Blues, with MacKinnon finding the back of the net 30 seconds in and then Landeskog redirecting MacKinnon's one-time shot into the cage eight minutes later. MacKinnon recorded his second goal and third point of the period with an empty-net marker in the final minute of play.

Colorado is now 28-17 all-time in franchise history in Game 1s of best-of-seven series, with its .622 winning percentage second best in NHL history (Buffalo Sabres, .625). When leading 1-0 in such sets, the Avalanche holds an all-time series record of 17-10 (.630).

THE GOALS

1st Period
15:15 COL (1-0) - PPG, Cale Makar opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the high slot during a man advantage.

2nd Period
16:31 STL (1-1) - Jordan Kyrou tied the game with a snap shot during a rush up the ice.

3rd Period
0:30 COL (2-1) - Nathan MacKinnon took a pass from behind the net from Mikko Rantanen and scored from the low slot.
8:30 COL (3-1) - Gabriel Landeskog tipped Nathan MacKinnon's one-time shot from the blue line, with Samuel Girard also picking up an assist.
19:20 COL (4-1) - ENG, Nathan MacKinnon scored into the empty net for his third point of the period.

Final: Avalanche - 4 | Blues - 1

3 STARS

  1. Gabriel Landeskog (COL): Three-point game and Gordie Howe Hat Trick
  2. Nathan MacKinnon (COL): Two goals and three points 
  3. Cale Makar (COL): Tallied game-opening goal

Selected by Colorado Hockey Coach of the Game: Jake French (Boulder Hockey Club)

POWER PLAYS

Colorado: 1 for 3
St. Louis: 0 for 2

GOALTENDING BATTLE

Colorado: Philipp Grubauer stoppped 22-of-23 shots in the win.
St. Louis: Jordan Binnington made 46 saves.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Mikko Rantanen had two assists for his 14th career multi-point game and sixth two-helper outing in the postseason.

His first assist on Cale Makar's goal marked his 40th postseason point (now 13 goals, 28 assists) in his 34th game. Only three players in Avalanche/Nordiques history having reached the mark in fewer playoff contests: Peter Stastny (28 GP), Joe Sakic (30 GP) and Nathan MacKinnon (33 GP).

NOTEBOOK

The Avalanche and Blues are meeting in their second-ever playoff series (2001 Western Conference Final, COL 4-1)… Colorado has picked up "points" in 18 straight contests at Ball Arena dating back to the regular season, including winning 10 in a row on home ice… Goalie Philipp Grubauer appeared in his 20th playoff game with Colorado, taking sole possession of fourth in franchise history in appearances by a netminder… The win moved Grubauer into third place in franchise history for postseason victories (13)... Nathan MacKinnon tallied his 21st and 22nd career playoff goals, moving into a tie with Adam Deadmarsh (22) for ninth place in franchise history. He finished with three points (two goals and assist) and now has 57 in his career, surpassing Claude Lemieux (55) and Adam Deadmarsh (56) for eighth-most in Colorado/Quebec history… MacKinnon's first goal was the game-winner, the sixth of his career in the postseason to move into a tie for four-most in the franchise's annals with Alex Tanguay... Gabriel Landeskog fought St. Louis' Brayden Schenn at 10:47 of the first period. Landeskog is the first Avalanche player to have a fighting major a playoff game since Cody McCormick in Game 2 of the 2008 Western Conference Semifinals against Detroit's Darren McCarty (April 26, 2008)… Landeskog had the Avalanche's first "Gordie Howe" Hat Trick with a goal, assist and fight since Valeri Nichushkin did it during the regular season on Dec. 23, 2019 at Vegas… Cale Makar scored his sixth career playoff goal, moving into sole possession of fourth place in franchise history by a defenseman… Rookie Alex Newhook made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut.

QUOTABLE

Head Coach Jared Bednar on the vibe around the team before Game 1: "It's that time of the year where it's a fun time to be playing hockey. They put a lot of hard work behind the scenes over the last few days, lots of meetings, getting prepared, and I think they're anxious to get out and go play."

Brandon Saad on the difference between playing in the playoffs compared to regular-season games: "I think just the intensity. Every shift just seems a little bit more competitive and more important. Not that the regular season isn't, but there is something in the atmosphere and the air where, especially now with getting fans back, there is a different energy and it's do or die or you go home."

BIG HIGHLIGHT

Video: STL@COL, Gm1: Landeskog deflects a shot into the net

IMAGE OF THE GAME

Makar getting it started.

ROSTER REPORT

Nathan MacKinnon returned to the lineup after missing four of the last five regular-season games with two minor lower-body injuries. He took the opening faceoff with linemates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen… Brandon Saad played in his first game after missing the final 11 contests due to a lower-body injury and began the contest on a forward combination that included Tyson Jost and Valeri Nichushkin… Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made his 23rd career start in the playoffs, his 20th with the Avalanche… Jonas Johnasson was the backup goalie.

INJURY UPDATE

  • Bowen Byram (Upper Body): Has been a full participant at recent practices, last played on March 25 vs. Vegas
  • Devan Dubnyk (COVID protocol): Was removed from NHL COVID protocol on Friday, May 14, and skated for the first time on Sunday
  • Erik Johnson (Upper Body): Could return later in the playoffs, out since getting hurt on Jan. 30 at Minnesota
  • Logan O'Connor (Lower Body): Out long term after having surgery, last played on March 31 vs. Arizona
  • Matt Calvert (Upper Body): Out long term, last played on March 23 at Arizona
  • Pavel Francouz (Lower Body): Expected to return fully healthy next season after having surgery earlier this year, hurt during practice on Jan. 18

UP NEXT

Game 2 is on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. MT at Ball Arena before the series shifts to Enterprise Center in St. Louis for Game 3 on Friday (7:30 p.m. MT) and Game 4 on Sunday (3 p.m. MT).

LINE COMBINATIONS

Based on the start of the game
Forwards
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
20 Brandon Saad - 17 Tyson Jost - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
18 Alex Newhook - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 37 J.T. Compher

Defensemen
7 Devon Toews - 8 Cale Makar
49 Samuel Girard - 27 Ryan Graves
24 Patrik Nemeth - 22 Conor Timmins

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
35 Jonas Johansson

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