In half a season, we’ve learned that taking risks and keeping the puck alive is a big part of 3-on-3 hockey. As such, it’s hard to fault St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen for his gaffe Wednesday night that led to the Colorado Avalanche picking up an overtime victory. After all, Allen was just trying to turn an Avalanche chance into an opportunity the other way for his Blues.
With less than 30 seconds remaining in the extra frame, Colorado defenseman Francois Beauchemin floated a backhand pass into the St. Louis zone that Avalanche center John Mitchell sped towards. As Mitchell began to pull in front of Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, Allen made a split-second decision to charge at the puck and attempt a sprawling poke check. It didn’t end how Allen had hoped:
Gabriel Landeskog will likely never score an easier overtime-winner in his life, but can Allen really be blamed for trying to keep the puck alive and potentially spring a 2-on-1 the other way for the Blues in the dying moments of overtime? The 25-year-old netminder would have looked like a genius had the play worked.
It’s not as if Allen hasn’t tried this before, either. He wasn’t going for the poke check without having done it before. Earlier this season against the Buffalo Sabres, Allen attempted an even riskier play in the final minute of the third period. Sabres center Sam Reinhart intercepted a pass that rolled back into St. Louis’ zone and Allen scrambled out to deny the chance. Allen’s poke check was a game-saver, as the Blues went on to win in a shootout.
Had Reinhart slipped by Allen, the Blues potentially could have left two points on the table. Instead, though, his bold play landed them at least one point and he held strong through the shootout to get the Blues the extra point, too. Here’s hoping one overtime loss doesn’t deter Allen from making bold plays, because it sure is fun to watch him charge out for the diving poke check.