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Blues pushed to the brink by Avalanche with a 5-1 loss in Game 3

St. Louis faces a win-or-go-home situation against Colorado at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Enterprise Center
Credit: AP
The Blues' Robert Thomas (18) and Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin (13) vie for control of the puck during the second period of Game 3 in the Enterprise Center.

ST. LOUIS — Ryan Graves had a goal and two assists, Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves and the Colorado Avalanche used a three-goal second period to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1 on Friday night and take a 3-0 series lead in their first-round West Division matchup.

Alex Newhook scored his first NHL goal, and Tyson Jost, Brandon Saad and J.T. Compher also scored for the Avalanche, who can complete a series sweep Sunday in Game 4 in St. Louis.

Tyler Bozak scored for the Blues, and Jordan Binnington made 21 saves.

Graves broke a scoreless tie at 1:57 of the second period. Graves, who had just gotten out of the penalty box, beat Binnington in a race for a loose puck in left circle and chipped it in the empty net.

Newhook made it 2-0, burying a rebound off a slap shot by Graves with 7:23 left in the second.

Colorado added to its lead with 3:52 left in the second on a diving swipe of the puck by Jost, finishing a rush moments after Grubauer got in front of a point-blank chance for Jordan Kyrou.

The Blues unsuccessfully challenged for goaltender interference — giving the Avalanche a power play. But Bozak scored a short-handed goal just nine seconds into the penalty kill to cut the Colorado lead to 3-1.

RELATED: NHL suspends Avalanche's Kadri 8 games for hit to Blues' Faulk in Game 2

Grubauer was stellar from the start, making 25 saves in the first two periods and several more in the third period as a desperate Blues team tried to come back.

Saad’s second goal of the playoffs with 6:18 left in the third sealed the win for the Avalanche. Compher added an empty-net goal.

REPEAT OFFENDER

This is the sixth time Avalanche C Nazem Kadri has been suspended in his 12-year career, the most recent being a five-game suspension in the 2019 playoffs as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs for a hit on Boston Bruins F Jake Debrusk.

Kadri was given a match penalty for the hit on Faulk, who didn’t return and was scratched with an upper-body injury on Friday.

THIN BLUE LINE

Along with Faulk, the Blues lost Robert Bortuzzo (upper body) after a hit from Jost, leaving St. Louis with just four defensemen to finish Game 2.

With Faulk and Bortuzzo out for Game 3, St. Louis was forced to play Steven Santini and Mitch Reinke. Santini played in just three regular-season games and Reinke played his lone NHL game in 2018.

PANDEMIC PLAY

The Blues allowed 9,000 fans, nearly 50% capacity, for the game. It was the largest percentage increase since St. Louis began its home schedule on Jan. 18.