The St. Louis Blues looked like they were finished on two separate occasions on Wednesday night.
But a three-goal third period and an overtime goal from Tyler Bozak helped lift them to a stunning 5-4 win in Game 5 of their Second Round series against the Colorado Avalanche. That win helps the Blues fight off elimination for one more game, pushing the series back to St. Louis for a Game 6 on Friday night.
For the first part of this game the Blues looked like a team that was not only getting badly outplayed, but did not even belong on the same ice as the Avalanche. Colorado jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead, looked dominant, and was not only constantly on the attack in the offensive zone but was clamping down on the Blues’ high-powered offense.
That all started to change with Vladimir Tarasenko‘s goal in the second period to make it a 3-1 game.
The Blues continued to chip away in the third period and eventually tied the game on goals by Robert Thomas and Justin Faulk.
But just a couple of minutes after Faulk’s game-tying goal, Nathan MacKinnon scored one of the best goals of the season when he went coast-to-coast on the Blues’ defense to complete the hat trick and give Colorado the lead once again.
At that point, the Blues again looked finished. MacKinnon was playing at an otherworldly level, the building sounded like the roof was going to come off, and the Avalanche were just minutes away from their first trip to the Western Conference Final since the 2002 playoffs. But Gabriel Landeskog missed an opportunity to shoot for an empty-net, giving St. Louis a chance to sustain a shift in the Colorado zone that ended with Thomas’ second goal of the game to tie it again and send it to overtime.
The Avalanche had the first quality chance in overtime and looked to have the game one until Robert Bortuzzo made one of the best shot blocks of his career to keep the score tied.
That set the stage for Bozak’s game-winner, which you can see in the video above.
For the Blues, it is new life in a series where they looked to be completely finished and a chance to even the series back on home ice.
For the Avalanche, this seems like a huge missed opportunity and one that they have to hope they do not regret. They have been trying to get over this Second Round hurdle for four years with this core, and they were just minutes away from actually getting there. They had a three-goal lead, another lead with a minute to play, and got an absolutely sensational performance from their best player. And they still let it slip away. Nothing can be taken for granted in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now they have to go back on the road against a really good team that is playing with house money at the moment and probably feels like it has nothing to lose.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.