Colorado Avalanche head back to St. Louis looking to continue road success

Colorado Avalanche head back to St. Louis looking to continue road success

Published May 27, 2022
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Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (8) clears the puck from behind the Avalanche goal during the second period of Game 5 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues Wednesday, May 25, 2022, at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

DENVER – The two-hour flight to St. Louis must have felt familiar.

Nearly a week after the Colorado Avalanche lamented their 4-1 loss to the Blues in Game 2 before heading to St. Louis for the third and fourth games of their second-round series, Jared Bednar’s team departed Denver again Thursday. This time, the flight out followed a 5-4 overtime loss Wednesday in Game 5 when the Avalanche wasted a 3-0 lead and gave up a goal in the final minute of regulation.

“We were down on ourselves after game two,” Bednar said Thursday from the airport. “We did not play well, and you know, we needed to go into St. Louis and bring our best and be resilient and be mentally tough and get back to our game. We did it. We did it twice, and we did it very well. Now, obviously, we’re going to be unhappy with last night’s game, especially the way it finished. We got to regroup and get ready to go back and play them again and do what we did in Games 3 and 4 there.”

The Avalanche outscored the Blues by a combined 11-5 score in their first trip to the Enterprise Center this postseason, taking a 3-1 series lead into Wednesday. St. Louis staved off elimination away from home in Game 5 but will need to hand Colorado its first road loss of the postseason to force a Game 7, which would be Sunday at Ball Arena.

“I feel like we’re a resilient group and over the course of the game, if we continue to play our game and stay resilient, we’re going to find success,” Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said. “So, it’s just sticking to it and not getting on your heels.”

Makar said that was an issue in Wednesday’s loss, a sentiment teammate Darren Helm echoed.

“We had opportunities to get pucks out last game and we just didn’t, weren’t able to do that,” Helm said, “You know, St. Louis is a great team. They were fighting for their lives, and they found a way to win. Tomorrow, we’ve got to do the same.”

If the Avalanche can repeat their previous performances, Colorado will head to the conference finals for the first time since 2002. While the Avs missed out on a chance to get some extra rest ahead of the next round, Nathan MacKinnon scored his first three goals in the series, including a coast-to-coast effort that gave the Avalanche a third-period lead.

“We let him down just as an individual how well he played,” Makar said. “That’s playoff Nate right there. We don’t expect anything less. That’s for sure.”

On the other end of the ice, Colorado’s penalty kill went 3-3 on Wednesday. The Blues scored a couple of goals with a man advantage to make Game 4 more competitive after the Avalanche got out to a 4-1 start.

“Guys were giving it their all, sacrificing their, bodies blocking shots,” Helm said. “I think that’s what we need to move forward.”

The Avalanche expects another unfriendly crowd in St. Louis. Blues fans wore shirts that read “Kroenke Sucks,” and chanted the same after the same ownership group that owns the Avalanche moved the city’s NFL team to Los Angeles. The crowd also booed Nazem Kadri throughout, but Colorado returned home with a couple of wins. The Avalanche return to town with a belief that they can do it again.

“We’re preparing to play our best game every night, and we’re going to have to be really, really good to win the hockey game,” Bednar said. “I feel like we’ve done that in the past and we can do it again. We got to use last night as fuel.”

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