The Colorado Avalanche looked to take a 3–0 lead on the St. Louis Blues in Missouri on Friday night, and there was no shortage of drama coming into the game. Blues defensemen Justin Faulk and Robert Bortozzo were not in the lineup, as both players suffered injuries in Game 2, notably Faulk, who took an illegal check to the head from Avs forward Nazem Kadri. It was announced by the NHL Department of Player Safety Friday night that Kadri would be suspended eight games for the hit. This may seem like a rough consequence, but the league does not take things lightly on repeat offenders.
Colorado’s Nazem Kadri has been suspended for eight games for an Illegal Check to the Head on St. Louis’ Justin Faulk. https://t.co/5rg2ZPVm5P
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) May 22, 2021
The first period seemed as though both teams were being a little too careful and not wanting to make any mistakes. The Blues were clearly the more physical team, and the Avalanche tried their best to play a solid road game by keeping things simple. St. Louis had a couple of sequences where they pinned Colorado deep in their own zone, but Philipp Grubauer was able to keep the Avalanche in the contest.
The second was when all the action started. Just two minutes into the frame, birthday boy Ryan Graves was released from the penalty box and found the puck for a breakaway. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington misjudged playing the puck and left the net to challenge Graves, who was then able to score the first goal of the game.
Ryan Graves taking full advantage here. #StanleyCup
— NHL (@NHL) May 22, 2021
Later in the second, Alex Newhook carried the puck into the zone on an odd-man rush and centered a pass trying to find Valeri Nichushkin’s stick. The puck missed and ricocheted to JT Compher, who fired a shot off Binnington’s left pad, which rebounded right back to Newhook for his first NHL goal. But Colorado was not done yet. Minutes later, Gabriel Landeskog found Tyson Jost on another opportunity, who capitalized to make it 3–0 Avs.
Out of desperation, the Blues challenged Jost’s goal for goaltender interference, which they lost, thus putting the Avalanche on the power play. But, just before the period ended, Cale Makar lost the puck behind the net to Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly, who set up Tyler Bozak for a shorthanded tally. The Blues would cut the lead to 3–1 heading into the third period.
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) May 22, 2021
St. Louis continued hitting as much as they could and ultimately finished the game with 46 hits as a team. But, it was the Avalanche that kept skating and making the Blues defend high-danger chances. More than halfway through the third, Andre Burakovsky skated into the St. Louis zone and found a streaking Brandon Saad, who scored his 20th career playoff goal to put Colorado ahead 4–1. Then, with a few minutes remaining in the game with Binnington pulled, Compher sealed the game with an empty-net goal.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) May 22, 2021
The Avalanche have a commanding 3–0 series lead and have the opportunity on Sunday to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In NHL history, there have only been four teams to ever come back from a 3–0 deficit in a series, so the numbers are on Colorado’s side. Unfortunately, the Avs will not have Kadri available for some time, but those shoes will have to be filled by Jost, who has been playing very well lately.