ST. LOUIS (AP) — Colorado coach Jared Bednar was looking for a little more aggression from veteran center Darren Helm.
Bednar got his wish Friday night.
Helm scored with 5.6 seconds left and Darcy Kuemper stopped 18 shots as the Avalanche capped their second-round streak with a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 on Friday night.
“We wanted it to be assertive and not so sure,” Bednar said.
JT Compher scored twice for Colorado, which advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2002. The Avalanche had been eliminated in the second round each of the past three years.
Colorado opens the series against Edmonton on Tuesday night in Denver.
Jordan Kyrou and Justin Faulk scored for St. Louis. and Ville Husso made 36 saves.
On the winning goal, Helm, 35, fired a shot from the face-off circle that went over Husso’s glove.
“We had three guys heading into the net,” Helm said. “I was just a little behind. The pass bounced off the side wall. I just wanted to put the puck on the net and it found its way. »
It was Helm’s second game-clinching goal of the series. As a member of the Detroit Red Wings, he won the Western Conference championship with an overtime goal in Game 5 against Chicago exactly 13 years ago.
“There’s no other guy that deserves it as much as he does,” Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog said. “You talk about his work ethic, but he’s the guy who comes to the rink with a smile on his face, who gets along with everyone.”
Kuemper, who missed part of the first-round series against Nashville with an eye injury, improved to 6-2. He also enjoyed watching Helm record the biggest tally in the series.
“A super clutch goal,” Kuemper said. “It’s always fun to see someone like Darren, who plays so hard, (but) still isn’t rewarded with points, scoring a big goal like that is really special.”
Compher, who had been held scoreless in the Avalanche’s first nine playoff games, escaped at the perfect time. He pounced on the rebound from a Josh Manson shot to tie the score 1-1 early in the second period. Compher then tied it 2-2 on a wrist shot from the face-off spot with 9:41 left in the third.
Husso, who had 13 goals on 93 shots in the previous three games, rebounded with a much stronger effort.
Colorado dominated play for long stretches but couldn’t solve Husso, who got his job back after Jordan Binnington suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3. Husso robbed Nazem Kadri from close range at start of the third period.
Husso had a 37-save shutout in a Game 1 win over Minnesota in the first round.
Faulk scored late in the first period on a wrist shot between the circles. He navigated the slot before taking a pass from Robert Thomas. The drive brushed Kuemper’s arm. It was Faulk’s first playoff goal after dispensing seven assists.
Kyrou also missed the net on a second-period breakaway and had a close range shot saved by Manson in the game’s defensive play after Kuemper was out of position.
Kyrou then converted on a 2-on-1 on a pass from Brayden Schenn to give the Blues a 2-1 lead at 9:34 of the second period.
“We feel like we’re a good team and let this streak slip away,” Schenn said.
St. Louis coach Craig Berube added, “It’s tough, a tough way to end it. That’s how it goes. Our guys are fighting hard.
The Blues forced a fifth game by beating Colorado 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday on a Tyler Bozak goal.
The Avalanche bounced back from that setback with an impressive effort.
“As soon as the puck was thrown, we were ready to play,” Bednar said. “You could tell the belief was there.”
Wayne Gretzky attended the contest. Gretzky, who played 18 games for the Blues in the 1995-96 season, has a home in St. Louis. He drew a huge ovation from the audience.
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