Blues resolution on full display in Game 5 overtime win
DENVER– There were no quits for the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference second round at the Ball Arena on Wednesday, no matter how many times the Colorado Avalanche thought instilled it.
“A group of resilient guys, [who] I went down and didn’t want the season to end,” Bozak said. “I fought hard, I scored big late goals. [I] was lucky to be at the end of extra time.”
Colorado had a chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2002, but gave up a 3-0 lead with less than 27 minutes left in regulation, and a lead of 4-3 after Nathan MacKinnon scored a scoring goal with 2:46 to go.
“It was an incredible hockey game,” Bozak said. “I’m sure everyone watching thought the same thing. Obviously MacKinnon is one of the best players in the League and makes plays in crucial moments and did that there, but we have great leadership on our team.
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It was a steep climb after Gabriel LandeskogThe goal gave the Avalanche a 3-0 lead at 4:02 of the second period. That should have been enough against most teams, but not these Blues, who still have 10 players from the 2019 squad that won the Stanley Cup in a seven-game series against the Boston Bruins.
St. Louis hadn’t made up for three playoff goals since 1998, a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 of that first-round series. It had only been done four times in Blues history.
But Vladimir Tarasenko cut it to 3-1 at 14:42 of the second, his first goal of the second round. thomas robertwho scored 20 goals during the regular season, got his first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at 9:57 of the third period to make it 3-2.
Jordan Kyrou tied 3-3 at 15:14.
But there was still MacKinnon, trying to clinch the Avalanche’s third-round ticket for the first time in his nine-year career. He took the puck to his side, turned on the afterburner, made a remarkable move to outsmart the defenseman Nick Leddy and fired a shot that hit the goalkeeper’s arm City Husso and under the crossbar to complete his hat trick and seemingly seal the game.
The home crowd went wild as the ice crew tried to collect the avalanche of hats that cascaded down the ice. Blues coach Craig Berube called a time out to refocus his staggered side one last time.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” Berube said of the moments after MacKinnon’s goal. “We fight back and then we give up that goal like that. It could be really deflating, but our team have a lot of guts and they’re a tough group of guys. I thought they were positive. We talked about what we were up to. do with the goalkeeper and all that, and it ended up working.”
Video: Bozak Overtime Game 5 winner spoils MacKinnon Hatty
Thomas scored his second of the game with 56 seconds left in the third and Husso fired for an extra forward, converting the rebound from a Tarasenko shot that had gone round. Darcy Kuemper‘s mask and laid unattended just outside the fold.
“You’ve got nothing to lose, so might as well throw it all out there,” Thomas said. “I think that was our mentality. It seemed to work tonight.”
That certainly was the case for Bozak, who didn’t see the ice for the final 9:16 of the third after the Blues shortened their bench. But Berube played a hunch when he sent his fourth line (Bozak, Ivan Barbaschev and Nathan Walker) in the fourth minute of extra time.
St. Louis is the first team to score two game-tying goals in the final five minutes of regulation time facing elimination. The only other team to do so in an NHL playoff game was the Buffalo Sabers in Game 1 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators.
“That one feels good obviously, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Bozak said. “We have to refocus and prepare for the next game.”