Finding goals has been as tough as finding victories for the Colorado Avalanche this season but Tuesday night in Nashville at least the goal scoring part was not the problem. The Avalanche traded goals with the Predators until a 5 on 3 goal early in the third period on a goal at 1:04 from Roman Josi sealed the victory. Viktor Arvidsson opened the scoring on an unassisted breakaway goal off a Cody Goloubef blocked shot at 10:08 in the first period. Nathan MacKinnon countered with a quick shot in front of the net at 12:08 off a great steal and gorgeous feed from Rene Bourque. James Neal got the lead back for the Predators at 18:26 from a laser shot off a Francois Beauchemin turnover. In the second period, Matt Duchene tallied on the power play at 3:46 from a nice Mikko Rantanen pass and a drive to the net that just snuck through goalie Pekka Rinne and required video review. PK Subban countered at 5:59 to take the lead once again before Duchene cashed in his second power play goal of the night at 13:56 off a rebound from a Jarome Iginla shot and capped off easily the best five-man puck movement the power play has seen in quite some time.
Mixed feelings are tough to sort after this contest which saw the Avalanche drop their sixth game in a row and fall a bit further into the hole they have dug for themselves. However, it was easily their best collective effort in the last few weeks as Coach Bednar even said the same after the game. It was also nice to see the big guns show up on the score sheet and find some success on the power play. Giving up the first goal of the game once again is discouraging as are the continuation of inopportune penalties, more on that below. As Duchene said post game, hopefully this is something they can build from as there were several positives and overall decent play to take from this game.
3 Keys to the Game
Many fans are wondering what Beauchemin did to deserve nearly 25 minutes of icetime in a game where he took two costly minor penalties, committed multiple turnovers and ended up -15 (+14/-29) in 5v5 Corsi differential. Eric Gelinas having to sit out most of the first period undergoing concussion protocol did not help, nor did pairing with Goloubef who looked green to put it politely in his first game in an Avalanche sweater and first in the NHL this season. However, Beauchemin and Goloubef combined to take penalties at the same time leading to the 5 on 3, which cost the game. If accountability is the culture in the Avalanche organization, why does it not seem to extend to its most senior members?
It is unfortunate when the refereeing becomes a storyline and a focus post game but it was suspect all evening. A couple soft calls and a gift 5 on 3 for a full two minutes set the table but it was the incorrect high sticking call in the last minute of the game in which the Avalanche had the goalie pulled and were buzzing effectively killed their chances at scoring the equalizer. The Avalanche can’t use these things as an excuse and must work on playing more disciplined but it is tough seeing a game decided out of their hands.
The previously mentioned core stepping up and producing this evening was nice to see. As was the excellent play of Nikita Zadorov, who looked engaged and confident with more ice time. He made numerous good plays including keeping the puck alive in the offensive zone, which lead to the first Avalanche goal of the evening. Bednar said post game that when Zadorov is physical then he is using his size and playing his best. Zadorov had 18:35 of icetime tonight and the hope is he has earned more with his play especially considering the defensive group without Erik Johnson is going to need someone to step up and fill the void and it cannot all go to Beauchemin.
Up Next: An early 5pm mountain time meeting in Boston against the Bruins on Thursday, December 8th.