St. Louis Blues V Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) and Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (91) celebrate Kadri's goal against St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso (35) during second period action of Game 3 of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs at Enterprise Center on Saturday, May 21, 2022. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Nazem Kadri is probably the only person who can come anywhere close to Stan Kroenke when it comes to hated members of the Colorado Avalanche.

A year ago, it was Kadri hitting Justin Faulk and knocked him out of the postseason. On Saturday, it was Kadri colliding with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington and knocking him out of Game 3 and who knows how much longer. Two series, two significant injuries and, on Saturday, a 5-2 loss for the Blues that put them down 2-1 in the series.

The incident occurred with 13:15 to go in the first period, with the Blues up 1-0. Kadri and defenseman Calle Rosen were going for a loose puck in front of Binnington and the Blues goal. Kadri lowered his shoulder and leaned into Rosen, sending him into Binnington, and Kadri soon followed.

Kadri pled innocence after the game on the Binnington play.

“I just see a loose puck,” Kadri said. “Really. I mean, I was kind of just sitting behind him and just tried to poke it with my stick and I think their defenseman kind of collided with me and pushed me into him. So had that not been the case. I don't think I would have hit him at all. It’s a loose puck. I'm just trying to try to bang it in.”

This isn’t the first time Binnington and Kadri have crossed paths. In the second meeting of the season between the teams, Binnington got a 10-minute misconduct for taking a swing at Kadri during a scrum near the Blues goal. After the game on Saturday, Binnington threw an empty water bottle at Kadri while he was doing a postgame interview in a corridor near where the Blues medical room is. (Kadri said he wasn't positive it was Binnington who threw it but a witness ID'd Binnington as the perpetrator.)

It would seem that the two don’t like each other.

“I don't know,” Kadri said. “From my perspective, there's nothing personal, I'm just going out there to try to win and compete and if people take that personally, that's on them. For me what happens on the ice kind of stays on the ice and I'm just a competitor. I want to win and that's it.”

Kadri’s coach, Jared Bednar, disagreed that Blues coach Craig Berube’s suggestion that Kadri’s reputation was an indicator of his intent.

“Listen reputation doesn't mean anything,” Bednar said. “It's either a legal play or it's not. We've talked about this with Naz and the way he's trying to change his reputation, making sure that he's playing through checks and plays legal or nonlegal and that D and Naz, they're both going for a loose puck sitting at the top of the crease, skating in there downhill as hard as they can go and both guys go in there. They're both going after the puck the same way and they collide before they go in. So, it’s unfortunate, same as Girard for me. That's a legal play. And it's unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

To make matters worse for Blues fans who already didn’t like Kadri and were booing him nonstop after that, Kadri had a goal and an assist, scoring the goal just after a power play ended that broke the 1-1 tie and then had an assist on Artturi Lehkonen’s goal that made it 3-1.

“I think we executed great on the power play tonight,” Kadri said. “That kind of gave us momentum and not sure if it ran out or you know what the situation was. I think there's a few seconds left but great, great play by Kale (Makar) and I was able to get a stick on it and obviously that was a difference maker in the game and kind of got us going a little bit and then just great shot by Lekky, picked the corner and definitely key goals in the hockey game.”

Bednar felt that Ivan Barbashev’s check on Avs defensemen Samuel Girard, which left him on his laying on the ice near the Colorado goal in the first period with a broken sternum, was legal as well.

“I didn't love it, seeing it live,” he said. “Looking back on it, I mean, it's a heavy collision, he kind of comes around, he just catches him in a bad spot, but I thought it was a legal check, to be honest with you. He kind of goes in on his head side but he got a lot of body there. He was turned the wrong way. And he went in awkward and it was a heavy check. Unfortunate, but to be honest, I think it was a legal check.”

The early loss of Girard, who was averaging 20:49 per game coming into the evening, meant heavy workloads for Devon Toews (30:56) and Cale Makar (28:49).

"We've got some guys that have been been tough decisions every night on the lineup no question," Bednar said. "We've got some guys who have played really well for us back there this year, so someone else is gonna get an opportunity here and we need him to step in and step up."

Tom Timmermann • 314-340-8190

@tomtimm on Twitter

ttimmermann@post-dispatch.com

Originally published on stltoday.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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