DENVER — Between the new line combinations and the wrinkles — using five power-play forwards — there was one big constant for St. Louis: Jordan Binnington.
Stellar in goal once again.
David Perron scored twice as St. Louis juggled offensive pairings, Binnington made 30 saves and the Blues beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Thursday night to tie their second-round series at one game apiece.
Jordan Kyrou added a goal and Brandon Saad sealed it with an empty net for the Blues, who delivered another superb performance from Binnington. The Blues goalie stopped 51 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1.
Binnington is showing his 2019 form, as a rookie he led the Blues to a Stanley Cup title with a 16-10 record and a 2.46 goals-against average.
It was also his 20th career playoff victory. There are only two other goaltenders who have had as many playoff wins as he has since 2019 — Andrei Vasilevskiy (40-21) and Tuukka Rask (22-16), according to NHL Stats.
“We played a connected hockey game,” Binnington said. “We just talked about controlling the puck and backing up hard and trying to outnumber them all over the ice. We have done an excellent job.
Gabriel Landeskog scored on the power play early in the third for Colorado to make it 2-1. But Perron responded immediately with his seventh goal of these playoffs.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots. Two of the goals he allowed were redirected off a defenseman’s stick.
The difference in the game was this: Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche found the ice to be in short supply against a physical, more efficient and more determined Blues team.
“We didn’t land our jump tonight,” said MacKinnon. “Our execution was called off. Yeah, I wasn’t feeling it, I was just fighting it there. It’s unfortunate, but it’s 1-1.”
Game 3 is Saturday in St. Louis.
Among the Blues’ line changes was the pairing of Pavel Buchnevich with Ryan O’Reilly and Perron. Buchnevich finished with two assists.
“We made some good plays,” said Perron. “We also think we can be even better, which is a good sign.”
The Blues had a 5-3 advantage late in the second period when Devon Toews was called for tripping and Valeri Nichushkin for interference with the goalie after hitting Binnington, whose stick went flying. The Blues went with five attackers on the game.
Perron made them pay when his understudy deflected off the stick of Josh Manson – who scored the OT winner in Game 1 – and passed Kuemper.
Earlier in the second, Kyrou’s shot deflected off defender Samuel Girard’s stick and over Kuemper’s shoulder.
“It’s the playoffs right there for you – a big roller coaster,” Perron said. “Obviously we didn’t feel good about ourselves that last game. We probably had two or three players who had good games. That was it. And tonight we had a lot more guys and it was important to find a way to win one here on the road.
Colorado defenseman Cale Makar was rocked late in the first period when he fell to the ice and hit his leg on the post, knocking the goal off its moorings. He skated cautiously to the bench, but was back on the ice after intermission.
That remains a cloud over the Avalanche: They’ve been knocked out of the playoffs the past three seasons in the second round.
“It’s a game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We knew it was going to be a long and difficult series. They answered… Now the responsibility lies with us.
With his second goal of the series, Kyrou joins the list of Blues players who now have five or more goals in this post-season. He joins O’Reilly (six), Perron and Vladimir Tarasenko (five), giving the team the most scorers with five or more in the playoffs.
O’Reilly’s scoring streak in five consecutive games has been halted.
MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen got assists on Landeskog’s goal. It’s the 13th time the three have all considered the same playoff goal. It’s the second-most three teammates in franchise history, behind just 14 from Peter Forsberg, Valeri Kamensky and Claude Lemieux.
MIC’D UP MANSON
Manson was wear a microphone in Game 1 when he scored his goal in overtime. He captured all the screams as he and his teammates celebrated. One of the first to greet him was Girard.
“I actually didn’t know,” Girard said of Manson’s microphone.