The St. Louis Blues have beaten Colorado Avalanche 2-1 in a match in which recent acquisition Ryan Miller proved to be worth every cent of the $1.75 million the Blues paid for him and Ott. Elite goalie Miller nearly went as far as to shut out the home side at the Pepsi Center. Miller, who had gone 3 games and 20 saved shots since his transfer from the Buffalo Sabres, went 26 saves alone in this match before he finally showed a more human side and let one in.
Miller had played a big part in the pre-game hype. With fans wondering how the Avalanche would they fare coming up against the National Hockey League’s (NHL) best goaltender? The hype was also built around the game’s stakes. Both teams are in the top three of the Central Division, and only 3 points separate the Blues at the top and Avalanche in third place. But, ultimately, hype is all it was. The Blues, favorites before the match, having won three consecutive times against the Avalanches and being 5-2 up on SUs, proved that favored status was fairly earned.
The expected result of the Blues beating Avalanche away did not look so inevitable at the onset of the game. While the first period was goalless, neither team was short on attempts on goal, and the speed of play had fans in the Pepsi Center excited. Colorado, never short of talking up their chances against the Blues, looked like they might even keep their word as they led the attempts on goal early on, leading 6-3 at one stage, a stat that evened out at 8-8 by the end of the period.
The second period saw more of a return to recent form as the Blues edged ahead on shots on goal, and finally scored as team captain Backes scored at 07.03, assisted by Oshie and Shattenkirk. The Blues then began to dominate, leading 15-11 on shots on goal, and ending the period 9-6 up, and with a 1-0 lead.
That lead was not long lengthened in the third period, the Blues taking a 2-0 lead as Bergland scored at 3:53, assisted by Tarasenko and Schwartz. Matters looked ominous for the Avalanches but they made a last attempt to get the win, Parenteau scoring at 08:57, assisted by Duchene and O’Reilly. But, despite getting the better of the Blues in shots on goal, with a 13-8 lead, Avalanche could not find the back of the net again as Miller showed just why he is considered one the game’s goal-tending elite.
For the Blues, beating Avalanche away increases their lead at the top of the division. It also means they are now on a 5 game winning streak. With Ryan Miller tending goal, and with the confidence he and the team must feel after their recent streak, it is hard to see either the Avalanches or the second placed Chicago Blackhawks gaining ground any time soon. For the Blues, the signing of Miller could prove to be the key to holding their place at the top of the standings, their goal-tending issues now seemingly solved, and making a run for the Stanley Cup over the current favorites, the defending champions the Chicago Blackhawks.
Opinion by Christian Deverille