The Colorado Avalanche got off to a slow start in Game 1 of their first-round series against St. Louis, but Gabriel Landeskog did what a captain should do for his team.
He gave them the spark.
Landeskog let go of the gloves with Brayden Schenn midway through the first period and that got the rest of the Avalanche started. They had 50 shots on goal and retired in the third period of Monday night’s 4-1 win.
Now Colorado is leading a 2-0 home streak when the teams meet in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
The Avalanche is one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and that comes with the pressure. It seemed like a problem at the start of Monday’s game, but after Schenn’s collision with Mikko Rantanen, Landeskog found a way out of the funk by fighting the St. Louis forward.
“Obviously here playing at home I thought the first 10 minutes of that period we were a bit on tiptoe,” Landeskog said after the game. “Nerves, adrenaline and everything. I thought it was going to calm us down a bit and draw a crowd.”
Colorado’s victory was largely due to the play of its front row of Landeskog (one goal, two assists), Rantanen (two assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (two goals and one assist). They combined for eight of the game’s 10 points despite being in the center of the Saint-Louis defense.
“We have to be aggressive against them in the (defensive) zone and reduce their speed and from there we have to make good plays,” said Blues center Ryan O’Reilly.
The game got a little hectic at the end which should set for a more intense game. St. Louis knows that if he’s going to steal a game in Denver, he needs more offense and goalie Jordan Binnington is playing at the same level. . He finished with 46 saves on 49 shots and made several high-time reel saves.
“At the start of the third period, 1-1, the way he played, we had a really good opportunity, but we let it go,” said Blues coach Craig Berube.
St. Louis will again be without top scorer David Perron, who is in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, but it got Vladimir Tarasenko back for Game 1. Tarasenko missed the last six games of the regular season due to a lower body injury and recorded 16:21 of ice time. He hit a post in the first half that would have given the Blues a quick lead.
“He skated well; he was strong as he always was. It’s tough after missing the time to come back, especially in a playoff game, game one,” said teammate Tyler Bozak.
The Avalanche will have rookie defenseman Bo Byram available on Wednesday. He missed the last 24 games of the regular season and the opener with an upper body injury.
Colorado believe they can play better despite having 50 shots on goal.
“We did a good job getting the pucks to the net and giving our forwards time to get there,” said defenseman Cale Makar. “I think that will be a key part of this series, making sure we pass those pucks and fight to reach the net.”
– Field level media
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