The emotions were high before the puck dropped between the Avalanche and St. Louis Blues on Saturday at Ball Arena. Not only had the Avs just finished honoring the late Pierre Lacroix — the team’s former president and general manager — with a banner-raising ceremony, but they were also playing shorthanded against an opponent looking to avenge a playoff defeat and a hit that knocked defenseman Justin Faulk out of the postseason.

And to pile on to the rollercoaster of emotions, Colorado thought it had clawed back from a late 4-1 deficit. But what would’ve been the game-tying goal from forward Tyson Jost was overturned because of a distinct kicking motion in the third period.

The Avalanche went on to lose 5-3.

“I don’t love the call just because I’ve been watching the game in Vegas the other night, that guy in my opinion kicks it in,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said, returning to the bench after a COVID-positive test kept him out of the opener. “The game in Ottawa, a Toronto guy kicks it in.”

“It seems to count unless it’s us at the end of the game from the short season. So I don’t like it.”

Jost was tangled up with Blues defender Colton Parayko in the crease, and didn’t seem to intentionally kick it in. But his leg appeared to sweep the puck into the net in the crease.

“I didn’t really see it until I got in the room,” Avs defenseman Cale Makar said. “I mean, it looks like a pretty conclusive kicking motion. It’s a little bit of a tough one, obviously that guy’s falling into him so if Josty keeps his leg there, It’s probably snapping in half.”

Forward J.T. Compher and Jost scored 1:42 apart before the disallowed goal to make it 4-3. Colorado pulled goalie Darcy Kuemper both times to score before nearly completing the trifecta of goals with the extra skater. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly eventually added an empty netter.

The disappointing ending didn’t take away from what was a moral victory. Afterall, the Avs were playing a man short, and had another leave the game early. Just two games into the season, the team is facing adversity that many of the players have said is something they’re used to.

They’ll have two days off before a three-game road trip begins in Washington on Tuesday. It’s still unclear who, if any, of the absent players could return by then.

Listen to “Pierre Lacroix Night at Ball Arena” on Spreaker.

Deen’s List

Injuries pile on

Not only were the Avs still without star center Nathan MacKinnon, who remains on COVID protocol, but they also lost four others from Wednesday’s season opener.

Gabriel Landeskog served the first of his two-game suspension, Jack Johnson joined MacKinnon in COVID protocol, and Valeri Nichushkin missed his first game after an injury on Wednesday. He is expected to be out at least a week. To replace them, the Avs called up Dylan Sikura and Stefan Matteau, the latter of which was injured in the first period and did not return.

Colorado also had to send down Alex Newhook to be cap compliant. It played with just 11 forwards and was down to 10 after Matteau’s injury.

Depth tested

I don’t think the Avs wanted to use their depth players this much so early in the season, but they had no choice. Matteau played just 3:39. But Sikura and forward Jayson Megna played a combined 28:11. Megna’s ice-time was the sixth-most among Avalanche forwards.

Colorado also had to dress defenseman Kurtis MacDermid to replace Johnson. But he was used sparingly, playing just 10:23 and finishing with a minus-1.

Kadri answers the bell

Kadri’s suspension for a hit on Blues defenseman Justin Faulk has likely been on St. Louis’ mind all summer. And it took just 40 seconds for Kadri to have to answer the bell. Blues forward Brayden Schenn challenged the Avs’ top-line center, and the two were both sent to the box for five minutes following a spirited tussle.

The Blues would score during those five minutes, and fittingly, it was Faulk that was credited with their first goal.

Kadri was once again a difference maker after his fight. He had two assists and leads the Avalanche with four points through two games. It’s exactly the type of start Colorado needed from Kadri after a disappointing season last year.

Ice time

The Avs had 16 skaters finish the game and half of them played over 20 minutes. It’s not ideal to have so many players reach that number. But once again, the team was limited in options.

Makar led the way (26:13), appearing on both the power play and penalty kill. Also eclipsing 20 minutes were defensemen Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram, and forwards Mikko Rantanen, Andre Burakovsky, Compher, Jost and Kadri.

Kuemper’s struggles

It’s hard to pin the loss on Kuemper, especially given how much of the early part of the game the Blues controlled. But the Avs would’ve hoped Kuemper made one more save than he did. Especially in the second period. Colorado outshot the Blues 16-5 in the middle frame, but gave up the first two goals of the period.

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 completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

Listen to “Pierre Lacroix Night at Ball Arena” on Spreaker.