Gabriel Landeskog sat at his locker stall [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/kyler-fackrell-jersey]Kyler Fackrell Jersey[/url] , his skates still laced and most of his gear still on.
The only thing missing was his jersey, which was given to a lucky fan.
Quick, get the captain a new one – the Colorado Avalanche are going to need it where they’re going.
Nathan MacKinnon scored his first goal in 10 games, Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 shots and the Avalanche earned the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
Defensemen Samuel Girard and Tyson Barrie scored, while Landeskog and Matt Nieto added empty-netters for the Avalanche, who won the West’s second wild card and head to the postseason for the first time since 2013-14. They will face top-seeded Nashville in the opening round a season after recording a league-low 48 points.
”It’s an unbelievable accomplishment,” MacKinnon said. ”It’s got to be one of the best accomplishments in modern sports history.”
Landeskog already has a start on his playoff beard.
Game No. 82 for these two boiled down to a winner-take-all scenario. Although, there was one caveat – the Avalanche couldn’t allow the game to go to overtime since the Blues held the tiebreaker. St. Louis pulled out all the stops late in the third: Taking out goalie Jake Allen with around 4:35 remaining. Landeskog and Nieto sealed the win with empty-net tallies that sent the raucous crowd into full celebration mode.
”Credit to Colorado they’ve improved immensely over the last couple of years,” Allen said. ”They played well again tonight.”
Colorado finished with 95 points to become first NHL team to post a 40-point gain over an 82-game season since the Pittsburgh Penguins jumped 47 from 2005-06 (58) to 2006-07 (105).
Next up [url=http://www.dolphinscheapshops.com]Dolphins Cheap Jerseys[/url] , rest. That’s Landeskog’s plan anyway – lay on the couch with his dog and watch the Masters on Sunday. Then, get ready for Nashville.
”If we play the way we played tonight, we have a good chance,” Bernier said.
Jaden Schwartz had a power-play goal and Brayden Schenn scored with 38.4 seconds remaining for the Blues, who saw their playoff appearance streak halted at six straight seasons.
The Blues arrived in town late following a 4-1 win in Chicago on Friday night. They sent Allen to the Mile High City early so he would be better rested for the big game. Allen made one diving save after another to keep things close. He even played through a tweaked hamstring he suffered in the game.
”Any other game I probably would have went out but this a game we needed to win,” Allen said.
St. Louis was dealt a blow midway through the first period when leading goal-scorer Vladimir Tarasenko left with an upper-body injury. He didn’t return.
”He was very disappointed,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said.
Leading 2-1 late in the third, MacKinnon beat Allen with a shot over the goaltender’s shoulder. MacKinnon had been held without a goal since March 18 when he had two against Detroit. He finished with 97 points – the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 100 in 2006-07.
Barrie gave Colorado a 2-0 lead in the second on a goal from the blue line that led to a challenge by St. Louis, which felt the puck left the zone. The officials took a long look before ruling it a good goal and determined ”there were no definitive replays which showed that the puck left the attacking zone [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-barry-church-jersey]Barry Church Jersey[/url] ,” according to NHL situation room.
”I’m not going to blame the season on a bad call,” Yeo said.
Girard scored his first goal since Feb. 22 on a slap shot through traffic with 46 seconds left in the first period to give the Avs a 1-0 advantage. He was acquired by Colorado from Nashville in the three-team deal that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa in November.
The last time two teams met in their final game of the season while contending for the last available playoff spot in the conference was 2010. In that contest, Philadelphia beat the New York Rangers in a shootout.
”What a night,” Landeskog said.
NOTES: Blues D Alex Pietrangelo played in his 617th career NHL game. He surpassed Bob Plager for second on the team’s all-time list for defensemen. … Colorado was without D Erik Johnson and G Semyon Varlamov, who are both sidelined by knee injuries. Varlamov won’t have a chance to play in the first round, coach Jared Bednar said. … Colorado had 28 home wins, matching a franchise record for wins that was set in 2000-01, when the team hoisted the Stanley Cup.
Avalanche: Face Nashville in the first round of the playoffs. The Avs were 0-3-1 against the Predators this season.
More NHL hockey: Stephen Curry resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night against New Orleans.
Curry looked strong as he practiced Thursday wearing a protective brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since the injury March 23 – the same day he returned from a six-game absence because of a hurt right ankle.
Coach Steve Kerr is calling Curry questionable for Saturday. That could change if the two-time NBA MVP still feels fine Friday and is fine after one more day of full practice before the Pelicans visit Oracle Arena to begin the best-of-seven series.
”Steph practiced at 100 percent [url=http://www.authenticslosangelesrams.com/cheap-brian-allen-jersey]Brian Allen Color Rush Jersey[/url] , he did everything, he looked good,” Kerr said. ”What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day, put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together two good days but it was very positive today. … I think it’s been coming along pretty well. When we were in San Antonio and I was asked a question about how he was doing, I think I was able to give an answer, `He’s doing great but we haven’t ramped him up yet.’ I think today was an important day because it’s the first time he’s actually gone live action and he was allowed to go through practice. And he appears fine.”
Curry went through his usual shooting work with Kevin Durant from various spots after practice, cutting and exhibiting his fancy footwork and dribbling skills. The Warriors have played well without their floor leader, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the first-round series with a 99-91 win Tuesday night.
The Pelicans will present a different, faster pace for the Warriors [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-dylan-larkin-jersey]Adidas Dylan Larkin Jersey[/url] , so getting Curry back to push the ball and direct the offense would be important. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, started in the first round in his place while Quinn Cook handled point guard duties late in the regular season with Curry out.
”We’re excited. I know he’s very eager to play,” said Klay Thompson. ”He’s a competitor, so sitting out I know kills him. We can’t wait for him to get back whenever that is.”
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