DENVER -- Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals in the third period for the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Ball Arena on Monday.
MacKinnon scored 30 seconds into the period to put the Avalanche ahead 2-1, shooting short side from the slot off Mikko Rantanen's pass from behind the net.
Gabriel Landeskog then made it 3-1 at 8:30 when he deflected MacKinnon's point shot under Jordan Binnington's glove, and MacKinnon scored into an empty net with 40 seconds left for the 4-1 final.
"Fantastic third period," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of the top line of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen. "They were making big plays all over the ice, both on the offensive side of things and on the defensive side. Huge impact on the game."
Video: STL@COL, Gm1: Landeskog deflects a shot into the net
Ryan O'Reilly, who said last week that the Blues were going to win the best-of-7 series against the Avalanche, was on the ice for all three goals in the third period and took the tripping penalty that led to Colorado's goal in the first period.
"Yeah, it was very tough tonight," he said. "They played very well, came at us with a lot of speed and yeah, it was difficult to generate anything and get momentum. They played well. They were by far the better team tonight. If it wasn't for [Binnington], it would have been messy early, but we did some things all right. We've just got to improve and get back. We've got to get our rest and get ready for the next game."
Cale Makar scored, and Philipp Grubauer made 22 saves for Colorado, which is the No. 1 seed in the Honda West Division.
"For us, it's about wins and losses, and that's what it comes down to," Landeskog said. "I'm happy to be able to contribute. As a team, I thought we played a strong game. A few periods, second period, toward the end of it, we kind of got away from our game. I thought overall the third period was really good. Everybody chipped in. Everybody played well."
Binnington made 46 saves for St. Louis, the No. 4 seed, which was playing without leading scorer David Perron because of NHL COVID-19 protocol.
"It's tough, we'll be better," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "We've got to manage the puck better. Our execution wasn't good with the puck tonight. On the defensive side we let them come out of their zone too easy and create odd-man rushes against us."
Teams that win Game 1 are 490-222 (68.8 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series, including 7-1 in the first round last season. Game 2 will be played here Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN360, TVAS2, ALT, BSMW).
Video: STL@COL, Gm1: Makar rips home shot from the high slot
Makar gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 15:15 of the first period. Following a face-off win by Rantanen, Makar skated with the puck across the high slot before shooting through a screen on the power play.
"It was a great play by Mikko," Makar said. "I was able to get that through and Mikko had a great screen."
Binnington kept the Blues within one when he made the save against Rantanen by lifting his left pad in the air on a 2-on-0 at 10:10 of the second period. Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves then prevented Mike Hoffman from tying the game when he made a diving stick save on the forward's wraparound attempt with Grubauer out of position at 13:27.
Jordan Kyrou tied it 1-1 at 16:31, shooting inside the near post from the left face-off circle off a backhand pass from Ivan Barbashev on a 3-on-2.
Binnington made the save on Tyson Jost's initial backhand on a breakaway with 1:08 left in the second, then got the rebound between his pads after Jost tried to bat the puck out of the air off his back.
"We believe in what we're doing, and we ran into hot goalies earlier in the year as well," Landeskog said. "For us, it's find a way. Keep shooting the puck. It's not going to start going in because you start overpassing or look for the perfect play. You've got to keep throwing pucks there and I thought we did a good job of that. We got rewarded in the third."
NOTES: Blues defenseman Vince Dunn skated Monday but missed a 12th straight game with an upper-body injury. … Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko hit the post and was minus-2 in 16:21 of ice time in his return missing the final six regular-season games with a lower-body injury. … Colorado extended its home point streak to 18 games (17-0-1). … Avalanche forward Brandon Saad had two shots on goal in 14:38 after missing the final 11 regular-season games with a lower-body injury. … MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen combined for eight points (three goals, five assists).
Video: MacKinnon lifts the Avalanche to a 4-1 win in Game 1