DENVER — There wasn’t a fan in the building not standing in the final moments of the Avalanche’s 3-2 loss at Ball Arena.

Down a goal late, Colorado had 1:46 of two-man advantage to close out regulation. After a couple of good looks, goaltender Alexandar Georgiev rushed to the bench for the extra attacker, giving the NHL’s best power play a rare 6-on-3 opportunity for roughly 55 seconds.

Four chances, four shots and four looks that all missed the net. And then a bobbled puck over the stick of Nathan MacKinnon back to the neutral zone sealed it for the road team. The Blues managed to escape on Monday, holding the Avs to just one power-play goal in five tries, effectively ending their four-game winning streak.

“I feel like we did everything right at the end there,” said defenseman Cale Makar, who had two assists to push his career points total to 198. “They got a couple of lucky breaks and that’s it. That’s hockey. So it is what it is, but unfortunately we couldn’t get one there.”

The back-and-forth battle was scoreless for more than 30 minutes but not for a lack of tries. Colorado had a 46-39 advantage in shots, with goaltenders Alexandar Georgiev and Jordan Binnington making huge stops at both ends of the ice.

First it was Georgiev making solid saves early. But later in the first, the Avs began to press. They had 17 unsuccessful shots in the first period alone. Neither team was able to find the back of the net until past the midway point of the second period. It was going to take a nearly perfect shot to break the scoreless tie.

And that’s exactly what was needed. Mikko Rantanen collected a drop pass from Nathan MacKinnon and fired the puck past Binnington with a smooth wrister. The puck hit the post and bounced in, seemingly catching more than 18,000 fans in attendance by surprise.

Colorado’s lead lasted just 2:20 before a breakout from the Blues sprung forward Robert Thomas in all alone. He matched Rantanen’s shot with a wrister of his own that beat Georgiev clean. Suddenly tied 1-1, both teams continued to exchange chances with the Blues adding another goal before the break off a fortuitous bounce.

Blues forward Brandon Saad attempted to center the puck in front but his pass deflected off the stick of Makar and snuck up and over Georgiev’s skate before trickling in. St. Louis later drew a penalty on Rantanen with 1.4 seconds remaining, taking a 2-1 lead and a power play into the final period. Rantanen was called for interference. A penalty that proved costly when all was said and done.

It took just 13 seconds for St. Louis to extend its lead, making quick work out of that power play thanks to a goal from Jordan Kyrou.

“I didn’t love it,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of the call. “That pick happens a lot. The guy gets taken out of play because he runs into (J.T.) Compher, who’s falling. I don’t think it was necessarily Mikko interference. I mean you watch it, it happens all the time.”

The Avs didn’t let the goal deflate them. Less than three minutes after the Kyrou goal, Artturi Lehkonen wired a power-play goal of his own past Binnington to once again make it a one-goal game.

Both teams exchanged chances the rest of the way.

With five minutes remaining, Brayden Schenn of the Blues hit the post following a broken play that had Georgiev scrambling to get back into position. And shortly after that, MacKinnon had a chance to tie it but was stopped by Binnington.

Before the goalie was pulled, Binnington was also tasked with stopping Makar’s lethal one-timer from the circle on the 5-on-3.

“It’s kind of way our night was going,” Bednar said. “We had a lot of good looks and chances to score and we didn’t score. We missed the net too many times.”

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completing his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked as the assistant sports information director for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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