Not much went right for the Avalanche on Thursday night in St. Louis, with Colorado allowing more goals (seven) than it had allowed in a game since surrendering the same Nov. 4, 2011 against Dallas—and that was in overtime, a 7-6 loss.
The last time the Avs had given up seven goals in regulation? Feb. 14, 2011, in a 9-1 home loss to Calgary.
So, there’s not much to be gleaned from this one. This was just one of those games that must be considered an outlier in an otherwise great start to the season for Colorado.
“There’s no reason for us to [be] down ourselves,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “We’re 14-4. We played a really good game in Carolina (2-1 loss Tuesday). I thought tonight the puck didn’t bounce our way, the puck bounced their way, [and] it’s a big team. I thought that we learned a lot in those games.”
One particularly good takeaway from Thursday was the continued strong play of first-year forward Nathan MacKinnon, who scored his third goal of the season in the first period, which at the time tied the game at 1-1.
You never want to stick your nose up at an NHL goal, but MacKinnon’s first two scores this season were the result of MacKinnon’s skill and that of his teammates, with perfect passes setting him up for success both times.
His score Thursday night was all MacKinnon—though he did get it off a pass from Paul Stastny—as he blasted one past St. Louis netminder Jaroslav Halak with an absolute one-time rifle shot from the right face-off circle 5:30 into the first period.
MacKinnon tied a rookie franchise record with nine shots against Carolina on Tuesday night, but none of them found the netting. His early blast Thursday did and provided the Avalanche’s answer after St. Louis went ahead 1-0 just two minutes into the game.
“I was in the slot there, and we had a little give-and-go play earlier, and I think it went five-hole,” MacKinnon said. “I didn’t really see it go in, but I saw Paul’s hands go up, and I realized it did. It felt good to get one.
“I know I had a few opportunities against Carolina, and I wanted to be patient and not discouraged. Thankfully it went in.”
PUT A STAKE IN PK STREAK
The Avalanche had gone all season before Thursday night without allowing a road power-play goal, putting together a 20-for-20 penalty-kill run away from Pepsi Center and holding a 88.7 percent PK rate overall through 17 games (3rd in the NHL).
That incredible streak ended Thursday just 1:54 into the game when the Blues’ Derek Roy scored a power-play goal to put his team ahead 1-0.
David Backes (2:49 in the second) and Chris Stewart (14:39 in the second) also had man-advantage scores in St. Louis’ 7-3 win.
“They took advantage of their power play,” Roy said. “They made some great shots. On the goals they scored 5-on-5, I thought they made some really quality shots—[Alexander] Steen and [Vladimir] Tarasenko made beautiful shots—and they scored three [goals] on their power play. That was the story of the first two periods.
“The puck bounced well for them on their power play. The first two power plays it tipped off of us and then it finished at the back of the net.”
Jean-Sebastien Giguere had his eyes Thursday night on a franchise-record 6-0 start to the season, but St. Louis potted three goals in 14 shots against him in the first 27:16 of the game, and Roy made an in-game goalie change for the first time this year.
St. Louis scored just once against Giguere in the first period but followed with two against him in just more than seven minutes in the second period. Varlamov replaced him for the remainder of the second period but allowed two more goals.
Giguere then started and finished the third period and, after Colorado got goals from Matt Duchene (12) and Ryan O’Reilly (seven), he didn’t get credited with the loss as Varlamov (9-4) allowed St. Louis’ fourth goal.
“There’s nights like this,” Roy said. “One thing I liked about our team, even if we were losing 7-1, 7-2, we never stopped. We kept going at them, and I think we just lost our focus a bit in that second as well, but I thought we got it back in the third.
“It’s a good learning process for us. Overall, we did some good stuff out there, and we have to retain the positive of that game and not just the negative.”
Giguere had won each of his first five starts, matching the longest winning streak to begin a season in franchise history. He had allowed just five goals total in those five games was tied for first in the NHL with two.