3 Takeaways From Blues’ 5-2 Loss to Avalanche in Game 3

The St. Louis Blues lost Game 3 on home ice 5-2 to the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche will now carry a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 as the Blues had some major issues hurt them in this battle.

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Colorado Avalanche St. Louis Blues Round 2
Colorado Avalanche St. Louis Blues (The Hockey Writers)

Overall, the Blues played a solid game if you look at the statistics, but it certainly didn’t feel that way. Obviously, it was closer than the 5-2 score, but the Blues had multiple issues in this game. They had a similar game plan to Game 2, but they didn’t execute it as well.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Blues’ 4-1 Win over Avalanche in Game 2

They outshot the Avalanche 31-27. They were physical, and they won the majority of faceoffs. The numbers on the scoreboard are all that matter at the end of a game, and it didn’t go the Blues’ way in Game 3.

Binnington Leaves with Injury

The biggest moment of the game was Jordan Binnington leaving after a collision with Nazem Kadri and Calle Rosen, which was clearly accidental. It was less than seven minutes into the game when he left, and he had made three saves with a 1-0 lead.

Jordan Binnington St. Louis Blues
Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Binnington has been somewhat of a savior for the Blues in the playoffs, with a .948 save percentage (SV%) and a record of 4-1. When he went down, the building lost most of its energy, and it seemed like the Blues players went down with them. Shortly after he left, Ville Husso gave up a goal to make it a tie game. It was one that he can’t be blamed for.

He saved 19 of 23 shots, and one of those goals against him was when he tried to vacate the net for an extra attacker and got caught. That allowed Gabriel Landeskog to make it a 4-2 game, and it was virtually an empty netter, but the stat sheet suggests otherwise. He was thrown into a difficult situation, and the team struggled in front of him for parts of the game. He held his own and could be the starter for Game 4. Binnington is still being evaluated and the team will likely report his status before Game 4, but it certainly didn’t look good.

Couldn’t Take Advantage of Avalanche’s Short Blue Line

After taking a heavy hit from Ivan Barbashev, Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard left the game with what turned out to be a broken sternum. It’s a brutal injury for Girard who has been electrifying on the back-end for the Avalanche. They’ll miss him for the remainder of the playoffs.

The Avalanche played nearly the entire game with only five defensemen, and the Blues could not take advantage of that. It helped the Avalanche when Cale Makar had a monstrous game, registering an assist and plus/minus of plus-2. The Avalanche also got quality minutes from Bowen Byram and Josh Manson in this game. They all stepped up when they needed to.

As for the Blues, they got sloppy with the puck and didn’t throw enough at the Colorado defense. They also couldn’t capitalize on Darcy Kuemper’s juicy rebounds in front of the net, they lacked a net-front presence in a game where they needed it the most. Give credit to the Avalanche, as they were able to make it work with just 17 skaters instead of 18 for the majority of the game.

Uphill Battle Moving Forward for Blues

The Avalanche took back home ice in this series, now needing to win two more games with two home games remaining if necessary in Games 5 and 7. The series was an uphill battle for the Blues before it started, but now with the Binnington injury and series deficit, it becomes even more difficult. It was always going to be a hard series to win with the Avalanche being as elite as they are, but the Blues took a lot of momentum into Game 3 and lost it.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues Winter Classic
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues Winter Classic (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

They need the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Pavel Buchnevich, Brayden Schenn, and a list of others to step up in Game 4. Tarasenko had six shots on goal in Game 3 and somehow couldn’t bury one. Tarasenko had a tremendous regular season and has been solid in the playoffs, so it’s shocking that he couldn’t bury a goal in Game 3. They have four of their nine 20-plus goal scorers from the regular season without a goal in the playoffs. It’s time for the depth scoring to reappear. The Blues have relied a ton on Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, and Jordan Kyrou in this series, and it’s too much for just three players to overcome.

The upcoming Game 4 could be the turning point in the series for the Blues, or it could be the nail in the coffin. The Blues must come out fast and be ready to play a lot better in front of whoever their goaltender is. This is the biggest test of the season for the Blues, and it’s going to be interesting to see if they are up for it.

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