Blues confidently home for Game 6 against Avalanche

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Cale Makar boarded a plane bound for St. Louis, leaving behind one thing he doesn’t really believe travels from game to game or city to city: the momentum.

The Colorado Avalanche hope the the young defender is just after squandering a three-goal lead in an overtime loss. The St. Louis Blues are eager to prove that sentiment wrong.

“We’re still in a good position right now,” said Makar, whose team leads 3-2 in a second-round series that travels to St. Louis for Game 6 Friday night (8 p.m. ET, TNT ). “So that’s all that’s on my mind. … This (loss) is in the past and the momentum doesn’t carry over from game to game.

The Blues were 56 seconds from the closing curtain of their season. Now they head home full of confidence after rallying not once but twice in Game 5 before fourth-line center Tyler Bozak scored the overtime winner on a shot into traffic.

It was only the fifth time the Blues had come from three goals to win in the playoffs and the first time since 1998.

“We were tougher on the pucks. We were winning battles. We were well on the forecheck. We blocked them in the O zone, ”explained Robert Thomas, who scored two goals, including the equalizer with 56 seconds left in regulation time. “We know what works and we know how we can have a chance to win every night.”

The Avalanche won both games in St. Louis to improve their road record to 4-0 in those playoffs. The team has a safety net with Game 7 in Denver on Sunday if needed. But it’s a safety net they’d rather not use.

“Our belief is that the only team that can beat us is ourselves,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, whose team is seeking to advance to the 2008 Conference Finals. West for the first time since 2002. “True or not, I like that attitude. …If you sulk or if you live in the past or if you don’t stay in the moment, then you are finished.

The Blues are riding a wave of confidence after becoming the first team to score a pair of game-tying goals in the final five minutes of regulation time facing elimination, according to NHL Stats. This little piece of history made for a pleasant plane ride for the Blues.

Coach Craig Berube spent time in the air breaking down footage of the game. What he saw was a team doing little things that added up to a comeback for the ages.

“It’s important that you do the little things,” Berube said. “Often it comes down to winning and losing.”

Colorado looked set for the next round after Nathan MacKinnon scored his third goal of the game in grand fashion – a masterpiece of end-to-end skating, culminating in a shrewd move past a defender and a shrewd shot with 2:46 to go. This energized the crowd and gave the Avalanche a 4-3 lead. But Thomas saved the Blues with his late count and Bozak then went into extra time.

“Personally, I felt bad after the game because (MacKinnon) put us on our backs and he should have won us that game and unfortunately we couldn’t get it,” Makar said. “I felt like we let him down, just as an individual and how well he played. It was Nate’s playoffs right there. We expect no less.”

The Blues vowed to squeeze all that wiggle room for MacKinnon as he recorded Colorado’s second straight hat trick (Nazem Kadri scored the other with his Game 4 performance).

“I have to be tighter with him,” Berube said of MacKinnon, who scored his first three goals of the series. “Try to take the puck out of his hands and give it to someone else. Climb on him. Take time and space away from him.

The task for the Blues remains simple: to maintain their resilience.

“We didn’t want the season to end and we fought hard, we scored big late goals,” Bozak said. “It was great. We’re excited for our next game. … Obviously we want to use that as momentum.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

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