DENVER (AP) — Between the new line combinations and wrinkles — using five forwards on a power play — there was one big-time constant for St. Louis: Jordan Binnington.
Stellar in goal yet again.
David Perron scored twice as St. Louis juggled its 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 a game apiece.
Jordan Kyrou added a goal and Brandon Saad sealed it with an empty-netter for the Blues, who rode another superb performance from Binnington. The Blues goaltender stopped 51 shots during a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1.
Binnington’s flashing his 2019 form, when as a rookie he led the Blues to a Stanley Cup title with a 16-10 mark and a 2.46 goals-against average.
It was also his 20th career playoff win. There are only two other goaltenders who have as many postseason wins as him since 2019 — Andrei Vasilevskiy (40-21) and Tuukka Rask (22-16), according to NHL Stats.
“We played a connected hockey game,” Binnington said. “We talked about just controlling the puck and tracking back hard and trying to outnumber them all over the ice. We did a great job.”
Gabriel Landeskog scored on a power play early in the third for Colorado to make it 2-1. But Perron answered right back with his seventh goal of these playoffs.
Darcy Kuemper stopped 28 shots. Two of the goals he allowed were redirected off the stick of a defenseman.
The difference in the game was this: Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche found open ice a scarce commodity against a physical, hard-checking and more determined Blues squad.
“We didn’t have our jump tonight,” MacKinnon said. “Our execution was off. Yeah, just weren’t feeling it, just fighting it out there. It’s unfortunate, but it’s 1-1.”
Game 3 is Saturday in St. Louis.
Among the line changes by the Blues was pairing Pavel Buchnevich with Ryan O’Reilly and Perron. Buchnevich finished with two assists.
“We made some good plays,” Perron said. “We also think we can be even better, which is a good sign.”
The Blues had a 5-on-3 advantage late in the second period when Devon Toews was called for tripping and Valeri Nichushkin for goaltender interference after slamming into Binnington, whose stick went flying. The Blues went with five forwards on the play.
Perron made them pay when his liner deflected off the stick of Josh Manson — who scored the OT winner in Game 1 — and past Kuemper.
Earlier in the second, Kyrou’s shot deflected off the stick of defenseman Samuel Girard and over the shoulder of Kuemper.
“That’s the playoffs right there for you — big roller-coaster,” Perron said. “Obviously we didn’t feel good about ourselves that last game. We probably had two or three players that 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 shaken up 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 gingerly skated to the bench, but was back on the ice after intermission.
This remains a cloud hanging over the Avalanche: They’ve been ousted from the playoffs the last three seasons in the second round.
“It’s one game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We knew this was going to be a long, hard series. They answered back … Now, the onus is on us.”
With his second goal of the series, Kyrou joins the list of Blues players who now have five or more goals in this postseason. 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 run of a goal in five straight games was halted.
MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen had an assist on Landeskog’s goal. It’s the 13the time the three of them have all factored in on the same playoff goal. That’s the second-most by three teammates in franchise history, trailing only 14 from Peter Forsberg, Valeri Kamensky and Claude Lemieux.
MIC’D UP MANSON
Manson was wearing a microphone in Game 1 when he scored his overtime goal. It 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 the Manson’s microphone.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports