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Avalanche pound Blues, finish series sweep

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Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon combined for three goals and three assists to lead the visiting Colorado Avalanche past the St. Louis Blues 5-2 Sunday to complete their four-game playoff sweep.

The Avalanche became the fifth team to win the Presidents’ Trophy to sweep its opening-round series. They advance to play the winner of the series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild, which Vegas leads 3-1 heading into Monday night’s Game 5.

Brandon Saad and Valeri Nichushkin also scored for the Avalanche and goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and Ryan O’Reilly earned two assists for the Blues. Jordan Binnington stopped 29 of 32 shots in defeat.

The Avalanche controlled most of the scoreless first period while building a 10-6 advantage in shots on goal and 27-13 margin in shot attempts. They had the better scoring chances, including Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s shot that hit the post after Binnington got a piece of it.

Tarasenko gave the Blues their first lead of the series by taking O’Reilly’s long outlet pass to score on a breakaway 4:25 into the second period.

Saad tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal off the rush with 8:23 left in the period. He cruised into the slot, took a pass from Cale Makar from the right wing and converted his wide-open shot.

Landeskog put the Avalanche up 2-1 by redirecting Sam Girard’s long shot past Binnington with 5:07 left in the period.

Rantanen converted a 2-on-1 rush with Nathan MacKinnon to boost the Avalanche lead to 3-1 at the 4:20 mark of the third period.

Tarasenko cut the lead to 3-2 with a power-play goal at 8:39 into the third. He took a pass from Robert Thomas and fired a snap shot past Grubauer from the left circle.

The Blues’ comeback bid effectively ended when Mike Hoffman took a double-minor high-sticking penalty with 1:48 left. With Binnington pulled and the Blues playing 5-on-5, MacKinnon and Nichushkin scored power-play goals into the empty net.

–Field Level Media

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