The Colorado Avalanche got goals from important players and began the long process of erasing the memory of Saturday night’s embarrassing loss, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs on their home ice 3-1.
If you were looking for an immediate bounce back from last night’s astoundingly bad loss to the Montreal Canadiens, you didn’t get it. Colorado was on their heels nearly the entire period, eventually getting outshot 32-9 5-on-5 in the period (21-8 SOG). Yeah, it was as bad as that looks—only something strange happened. Goalie Semyon Varlamov, instead of letting half a dozen slip by like he did last night, stopped every puck to come his way. It gave the team hope (go figure), and with just under two minutes left in the period, captain Gabriel Landeskog drew a tripping penalty on Toronto’s Tyler Bozak.
After moving the puck around on the ensuing power play, Jarome Iginla fired off a one-timer from his usual spot on the left circle. Maple Leafs’ goalie Antoine Bibeau, playing in his first NHL game, made the initial stop but coughed up the rebound to Matt Duchene stirring things up in the low slot. Dutchy then made a beautiful no-look back-hand pass to a wide-open Mikko Rantanen who sniped his fourth goal on the year to put the Avalanche, improbably, up 1-0.
The second period resembled something much closer to good hockey, with Colorado moving the puck out of their own zone, winning battles on the boards, and—yes—outshooting their opponent. No pucks would cross the goal line during the middle frame, but the Avalanche would outshoot the Maple Leafs 22-15 5v5 (15-10 SOG).
Toronto would swing the momentum back their way during the third, largely because of three Avalanche penalties. Fortunately Toronto got caught violating some rules themselves, one of which led to a spectacular circus goal from Nathan MacKinnon. After taking a stick to the face and drawing blood (which would draw an additional four minutes after the play), MacKinnon beat four Maple Leaf defenders and fired off a devastating wrist shot on Toronto’s rookie goalie to put his team up 2-0.
(Seriously. Go check out those dangles.)
Some late carelessness, first by Patrick Wiercioch knocking off his own net for delay of game and then a cross-checking penalty on Nikita Zadorov, resulted in a pulled-goalie six-on-three for Toronto with less than three minutes to play. Jake Gardiner would strike for the Maple Leafs just 15 seconds later, cutting the Avalanche lead to one. But subsequent attempts would be fruitless. Semyon Varlamov would stop 50-of-51 shots on goal and Blake Comeau would seal the game with an empty-net slap shot from the Avalanche end.