DENVER — Josh Manson as a kid, he had a thousand goals in mind, the shot that would win a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
However, he said he could never have imagined the feeling of scoring.
That changed on Tuesday when the defender was the center of a raucous celebration after his 8.02 am point shot made its way through traffic to give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference runner-up. round in Ball Arena.
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here on Thursday.
“In my dreams, [I scored] like a one-hander or something,” Manson said with a laugh. “It’s not about how I feel, it’s about how the whole team feels. Watching everyone approach me was the most beautiful thing.
“I think [defenseman Erik Johnson] was three feet off the ground when he got to me, and that’s a big guy. I was just trying to stand my ground. But it was a lot of fun and exciting. It feels good to achieve that with your team. You know, that’s the best thing about playoffs, it’s a team effort.”
Video: STL@COL, Gm1: Manson scores first NHL playoff goal in OT
Manson, who also had the first assist on goal by Samuel Girard making it 2-1 was the unlikeliest hero on a night that Blues goalkeeper Jordan Binnington stopped almost everything in sight.
Cale Makari couldn’t get a shot past Binnington. neither of them could Nathan MacKinnon† Gabriel Landeskog† Mikko Rantanen or Nazem Kadri for Colorado, which defeated St. Louis 54-25, including 13-0 in overtime.
So instead it fell to Manson, who got a pass from Landeskog at just the right point and faked a shot before his attempt made its way through Landeskog and Justin Faulk at the top of the fold.
It was Manson’s first playoff goal of his career (27th game).
“That was a nice fake top at first that doesn’t get much credit for it, but that was really fun,” Landesog said. “I have the attacker to bite and get a firing range. At that point, I just try to be in front and get out at the last minute.”
[RELATED: Complete Avalanche vs. Blues series coverage]
In a way, it was fitting for Manson to be in the spotlight amid the overtime celebrations after the stay-at-home defender struggled a bit after being taken over in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on March 14. In 22 regular season games, Manson averaged 17:24 ice time, but was minus-11.
“I mean, he played his ass all night,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s a great goal, you know, on a great serve. I’m glad to see it being rewarded.”
Manson’s importance may not often be celebrated in the headlines, but it’s obvious to those who look hardest.
“I mean, he’s been hugely important to us,” Landesog said. “He’s big on penalty kills, he’s a physical presence there, he’s a calming presence in the room. Just a really good team-mate, and you can’t get enough of that.”