Blues goalie Jordan Binnington makes a stop on the puck while surrounded by players on Monday, April 1, 2019, during the third period of the game between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche at the Enterprise Center. Photo by J.B. Forbes,
The result put the Blues a season-high 15 games above .500 at 43-28-8, but more importantly ensured that they will finish no lower than the first wild-card spot in the playoffs next week. And that means they will not face a Pacific Division team in the opening round.
The Blues scored twice in the opening period but only one counted. A mere 100 seconds into the game, Tyler Bozak got one past Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer on an impressive rush and pass from Robert Bortuzzo. But Colorado challenged the goal and it took only one look at a replay to see that Bozak was offside on the play. No goal.
Things got turned up a couple of notches in terms of physical play. It was not a period for the faint of heart. Every time you turned around someone was giving someone on the other team a little bit extra along the boards. It seem liked the Avalanche directed a lot of ill will toward David Perron, but the officiating crew just let them play.
Just 14 seconds into the third period, Tarasenko eased some of that tension for the Blues with his 31st goal of the season. Just above the goal line, O’Reilly fired from a tight angle, Grubauer couldn’t hold onto the puck, and Tarasenko pounced on the loose puck like a vulture, squeezing one past the goalie near side.
So it was 2-0. A huge goal. But there was no relaxing, especially after a re-direct by Gabriel Landeskog got by Binnington 6 ½ minutes into the period. That made it a one-goal game again at 2-1 Blues. It was Patrik Nemeth’s shot from not far inside the blue line that Landeskog got his stick on for his 34th goal.