By Patrick Kelly
After a shortened training camp that produced significant hype around the St. Louis Blues, they were finally able to put it on full display Wednesday night. The Blues dominated the Colorado Avalanche, defeating them 4-1 in Denver. For the Blues, this was a great test to start the season and they handled it perfectly.
Each team came out ready to play with great back and forth action all game. With both teams knowing how important each matchup will be this season, it was physical early and the Blues found themselves down a man with a penalty to Sammy Blais. The Avalanche top-10 power play last year went right to work to make it 1-0, but the momentum slowly switched sides and wouldn’t dip back all game.
Not five minutes after the Andre Burakovsky goal, another Swede stepped forward. This time it was Oscar Sundqvist finishing off a beautiful pass from Jaden Schwartz to even the score. With the Blues’ fourth line getting on the board, the bottom six wasn’t done as Jordan Kyrou got his sixth NHL goal to give the Blues their first lead of the night. The Blues then turned on the jets from there, scoring two more unanswered goals, with another by Sundqvist along with Kyle Clifford’s first as a Blue in his first game since arriving from Los Angeles
Heading into this season, there were numerous question marks around the defense because of the loss of Alex Pietrangelo, but the Blues silenced a lot of those questions. All night, the defense shut down one of the best offenses in the league, allowing only 27 shots, which is five fewer than they averaged last year. After allowing the first power-play goal, the penalty kill also didn’t falter the rest of the game, going 3-for-4.
Of course, no defense would be complete without a solid netminder between the pipes. Jordan Binnington was on his game, looking to quickly eradicate any doubt people had in him after his bubble performance. Last year, the Avalanche were a thorn in Binnington’s side, scoring 14 goals in only four games against him. The Avalanche didn’t give him an easy time in net, with the top line throwing 13 shots Binnington’s way. However, he was solid all night, stopping 26 of 27 shots and helping the Blues get a massive first win of the shortened season.