DENVER — Jordan Binnington reminded many why he might be the most hated athlete among Avalanche faithful.

With the Avs up by three goals late in the second period, Binnington skated toward Logan O’Connor after the Colorado forward tried to tap home a rebound in the crease. The ensuing scrum behind the net, which Binnington joined, led Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev to skate to center ice to enter the melee. He was quickly stopped and directed to return to his net by the referee.

Five penalties were the result, giving St. Louis a power play where it scored successfully. But they only managed to get one more past Georgiev, who made 29 stops to help the Avalanche to a 4-2 victory at Ball Arena in their last game before the bye week and All-Star break.

“I was like, he’s a little too aggressive. Doesn’t feel right,” Georgiev said of the melee. “There are six guys to our five I don’t think that’s right. So I was ready to maybe talk to him at center ice.”

Listen to “Binnington Is “Not Hurting Anybody Else”” on Spreaker.

Alex Newhook, J.T. Compher, Evan Rodrigues and Matt Nieto scored for the Avalanche (27-18-3), who enter the break on a 7-1-0 run and currently sit third in the Central Division prior to Minnesota’s matchup against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Binnington has a history of being the villain against the Avs, and other teams around the NHL, too, for that matter. But his long list of run-ins with the Avalanche have elevated him to the biggest villain since perhaps Matt Cooke, or even Todd Bertuzzi. In 2021, he infamously tried to fight Philipp Grubauer following Game 1 of the Avs’ 4-0 series sweep of the Blues. Months later, he swung his stick toward former Av Nazem Kadri, who was suspended in the 2021 series for a hit on St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk.

And during the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, Binnington was injured in a collision with teammate Calle Rosen and Kadri. After the game, Binnington threw a water ball in Kadri’s direction while the Colorado forward was doing a post-game T.V. interview on TNT.

“I don’t think it’s just our team, I think it’s around the league,” superstar Nathan MacKinnon said of Binnington’s antics. “It’s just how he is. Either way, it’s all good. Certainly, it’s not hurting anybody else. It’s fine.”

Newhook’s tally opened the scoring at 9:22. Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Newhook became the first player in franchise history to score on his birthday in two consecutive years. His tally was his 12 of the season and his fifth in eight games. Newhook has just 20 points all season but has played perhaps his best hockey of the season during this eight-game stretch.

“It’s a bit of confidence for sure. It’s been nice getting back in the middle,” Newhook said of his recent stretch, where he returned to playing center after a long stint on the wing. “I think I’m finding a bit of a stride there in the middle, being able to generate a lot of speed.”

Coach Jared Bednar added: “(Newhook) was heavy down low, getting into people, physical, coming up with pucks. Still finds a way to like get up the ice on the forecheck and disrupt things and give us some time in the offensive zone. He’s playing a real nice 200-foot game right now in the middle of the ice, which is good to see.”

Colorado once again struggled late. On Tuesday the Avs escaped with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in what coach Jared Bednar said was a sloppy effort late in the game. Two nights later, Colorado held a 3-1 lead against the lowly Anaheim Ducks but surrendered four straight goals to fall in regulation, ending its dominant six-game winning streak. And once again, the Avs were on their heels late. It wasn’t perhaps the same type of effort that disappointed the coach in previous games, but Colorado once again was having trouble getting the puck out of its own zone.

The power-play goal from Blues forward Brayden Schenn following the melee was only the second goal Colorado has surrendered on the penalty kill in the past eight games. It also gave St. Louis life late in the second period, which was carried over into the final frame.

The Blues dominated the scoring opportunities for most, if not all of the final period, outshooting the Avs 10-5 and getting a goal from Ivan Barbashev following a penalty kill to pull within one. The Avs weathered the late storm thanks largely to Georgiev before Nieto sealed it with the empty netter.