Helm's game-winning goal with 5.6 seconds left ends Blues' season – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Blues had gone the entire season losing three consecutive home games only once. They picked the wrong time to make it twice — the time that ends your season. But that’s what happened Friday at Enterprise Center.

The Colorado Avalanche, Stanley Cup favorites since before the first puck was even dropped in training camp, moved on to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2002. They turned the lights out on the Blues’ season with a 3-2 victory, thus clinching the second-round playoff series four games to two.

Just when it looked like another overtime was about to take place, unheralded forward Darren Helm, with his first goal of the postseason, scored the game-winner with just 5.6 seconds to play.

“It’s tough, a tough way to end it,” coach Craig Berube said. “That’s the way it goes. Our guys battled hard.”

Colorado thus remains the only team in the playoffs to be unbeaten on the road. The Avs are 5-0, the second-longest road postseason winning streak in franchise history. As for the Blues, they have an entire season to lament the fact that they didn’t win a single home game in the series. Not one.

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They lost 5-2 in Game 3, the night Jordan Binnington suffered a series-ending apparent knee injury on a collision instigated by Nazem Kadri. They lost 6-3 in Game 4, trailing just 4-3 after two periods. And then came Friday’s season-ender. Three games at Enterprise — three losses.

“We needed to take one of those at home — (game) 3 or 4,” captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “We need to take one of those. And really I think that would’ve kind of sparked us, and gave us a better chance to win.”

But it didn’t happen. The Blues were doubled up on shots, 39-20, and simply couldn’t mount anything resembling consistent zone time Friday.

“We didn’t transfer the puck from defense to offense tonight,” Berube said. “We just kind of put pucks out to the neutral zone and they did a good job of countering. They came with a lot of speed. I thought their ‘D’ played extremely well tonight and carried the play for them.”

Even so, the Blues took a 2-1 lead into the third period that easily could’ve been 4-1.

On a Blues’ power play with Nathan MacKinnon off for tripping Jordan Kyrou, Kyrou had Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper down on the ice and out of position in the second period. But instead of shooting right away, he waited for a lane to clear. And waited too long. His backhand was blocked by defenseman Josh Manson — who was back in the crease with Kuemper out of the play.

Later in the period, Kyrou had a mini-breakaway on Kuemper and shot wide.

“Jordan Kyrou could have had three tonight,” Berube said. “Just the way it goes. We didn’t get the breaks.”

Kyrou had scored earlier on a 2-on-1 rush — off a patient feed from Brayden Schenn — midway through the second period to give the Blues a 2-1 lead.

A goal by Justin Faulk with one minute left in the first period, and a score by Colorado’s J.T. Compher five minutes into the second, had made it a 1-1 game.

Ville Husso, once again starting for the injured Binnington, was spectacular most of the night.

“ ‘Huus’ gave us a chance to win,” Schenn said. “Not an easy situation for him to come in the series. He found his groove.”

“He deserved better,” O’Reilly said.

Which most certainly was at the case. But down the stretch, when the Blues needed him most, he gave up two goals from distance in the third period. Both would fall into the category of shots Husso would like back.

As the midway point of the final period approached, Colton Parayko was whistled for delay of game after sending an attempted clearing pass over the glass. The Blues did yeoman’s work on the penalty and appeared to have it killed off.

But with one second left on the power play, Compher struck again, this time from the right circle. Like several goals in this series, this one beat Husso near side.

So it was a 2-2 game with 10:18 to play. It stayed that way until Helm came calling. On this same date 13 years ago, Helm had sent the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Final with a game-winner. He has now sent the Avalanche to the Western Conference finals, where they will meet the Edmonton Oilers.

In the process, he sent the Blues home for the summer. It was a stunner to be sure. Everyone in the building thought the game was heading into overtime. Helm’s shot looked pretty harmless. But it got by Husso.

After a strong regular season, followed by an impressive first-round series win over Minnesota, the Blues simply lost to a better team in Round 2. A team they have lost to 15 times in 21 games since the start of the 2020-21 season.

“We had a great season,” Berube said. “Proud of the guys. They worked really hard, but we really came together as a team throughout the season and the playoffs, battled hard in the playoffs, beat a real good team out in Minnesota and we’re right there with Colorado. It’s tough to lose.”

Especially at this time of year.

“Just couldn’t find ways to generate enough offensively,” Schenn said. “We feel we got a good team and let that series slip. They’re a good team. You gotta hand ’em credit.

“But we feel like we got good pieces in here, too. And we challenged them a lot better than we did (last year). It’s hard to come back from 3-1. We know that. Games 3 and 4 really hurt us, and it’s tough to come back in a series like that.”


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