3 Keys: Avalanche at Blues, Game 6 of Western Second Round

(1C) Avalanche at (3C) Blues

8 p.m. ET; TNT, CBC, TVAS, SN

Avalanche lead best-of-7 series 3-2

The St. Louis Blues will try to avoid elimination when they host the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round at Enterprise Center on Friday.

The Blues came back from down 3-0 and 4-3 to defeat the Avalanche 5-4 in overtime in Game 5 at Ball Arena in Denver on Wednesday. Forward Tyler Bozak scored 3:38 into overtime, and forward Robert Thomas scored his first two goals of the postseason for the Blues.

“I think you kind of saw it late in the second (period of Game 5) and the third period. I thought we were skating well, I thought we got pucks in deep,” Blues defenseman Nick Leddy said. “We did a lot of things we’ve done since I’ve been here throughout the back part of the year. You know, we created a lot, we had a lot of chances and I think the determination was really there throughout that full back half of the game.”

[RELATED: Complete Avalanche vs. Blues series coverage]

Colorado has not advanced past the second round since 2002, when it lost to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the Western Conference Final. As disappointed as the Avalanche were in not finishing the series on Wednesday, they plan to move on quickly.

“It’s the same as if you win a game: You enjoy it for three minutes, then you move on,” Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog said. “Here it’s the same thing. You sulk for three minutes and you move on. It’s as simple as that. It’s playoff hockey. It’s not supposed to be easy.”

Teams that hold a 3-2 lead are 336-91 (78.7 percent) winning a best-of-7 series including 4-3 in the 2022 first round.

Here are 3 keys for Game 6:

1. Take advantage of home ice

The Blues were 26-10-5 at Enterprise Center in the regular season but are 2-3 there in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Those two wins came in the first round against the Minnesota Wild. Granted, the Avalanche have won only one home game in this series, but their backs aren’t against the wall.

“I really don’t know what to make of the home and road stuff that’s going on. That’s hockey,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I thought that Game 3 at home (5-2 loss) we started off extremely well. And I liked our start in the game and some things happen, changes. Game 4 (6-3 loss) not as good for sure. We were on our heels in the first period, but we weathered the storm.

“We’ve got to have a good start to the game here tonight. They’ve started extremely well the last two games. They’ve been the better team in the first period. So we’ve got to turn that tide here tonight. I think it’s important that we come out we have a real good first.”

2. Making MacKinnon’s effort count

Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon had a monster Game 5, scoring his second Stanley Cup Playoff hat trick of his career and getting an assist. MacKinnon scored on an end-to-end rush with 2:46 remaining in the third to give the Avalanche the lead, but they couldn’t hold it.

“Personally, I felt bad after the game,” Colorado defenseman Cale Makar said. “He put us on his back and should’ve won us that game. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it. I felt like we let him down, just as an individual, how well he played, but that’s playoff Nate right there. We don’t expect anything less, that’s for sure.”

3. Tarasenko trending?

Vladimir Tarasenko had a relatively quiet second round against the Avalanche (one assist) until Game 5, when the forward had two points (one goal, one assist), including the Blues’ first goal, which teammate David Perron said jump-started the comeback win. St. Louis would take that again in Game 6 but said Tarasenko has been fine throughout the series, even if the offense hasn’t been there.

“I think he’s played pretty decent the whole time,” Perron said. “I think he’s getting his looks and sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t. He hit the crossbar in Game 4, he had looks, I’m sure, other games too. … Obviously, we needed to find a way to come through, and he did last game. It was an important goal for us, gave us life and that’s what was important.”

Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Artturi Lehkonen

Valeri NichushkinNazem KadriMikko Rantanen

Andre BurakovskyJ.T. CompherNicolas Aube-Kubel

Logan O’ConnorDarren HelmAndrew Cogliano

Devon Toews — Cale Makar

Jack JohnsonJosh Manson

Bowen ByramErik Johnson

Darcy Kuemper

Pavel Francouz

Scratched: Nico Sturm, Alex Newhook, Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid, Trent Miner

Injured: Samuel Girard (sternum)

Blues projected lineup

Brandon SaadRyan O’Reilly — David Perron

Pavel Buchnevich — Robert Thomas — Vladimir Tarasenko

Alexei ToropchenkoBrayden SchennJordan Kyrou

Ivan Barbashev — Tyler Bozak — Nathan Walker

Nick Leddy — Colton Parayko

Niko MikkolaJustin Faulk

Marco ScandellaRobert Bortuzzo

Ville Husso

Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Logan Brown, Calle Rosen, Scott Perunovich

Injured: Torey Krug (lower body)

Status report

Burakovsky, a healthy scratch the past two games, is expected to return and replace Newhook, a forward. … Toropchenko, who was on the fourth line in Game 5, and Barbashev, who was on the third line, will flip spots to start the game. … Krug took part in the morning skate but will miss his ninth straight game since he was injured in Game 3 of the first round.

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