It was a night where many Swedes shone, including Landeskog, Fredrik Claesson, Johnny Oduya, and Erik Karlsson who all found themselves on the scoresheet in this game.
Swedish captains Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Karlsson are joined by Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg for the ceremonial puck drop. Beautiful photo on so many levels.
Tom wouldn’t pay for my flight to Sweden but here’s the game recap nonetheless!
Early in the frame, Stockholm native Gabe Landeskog has a wide open net to shoot at but his shot is disturbed just enough by former teammate Matt Duchene and it barely goes wide. Great early chances from the Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen line so far.
Samuel Girard, who has immediately been given first powerplay unit time, has looked impressive in the offensive zone so far. He’s made good passes and is fitting into the system as well as you can hope for a first game on a new team. Girard’s ability to handle the puck at the point is definitely something keep an eye on as he gets older and better.
Just before the penalty expires, Nail Yakupov scores his 5th on the year! Alexander Kerfoot, from behind the net, sends a short pass towards yak, who is sitting in the soft area between the slot and the net. Nail one-times the shot, beating Anderson clean. Thats first-overall pick quality, right there.
Barely 20 seconds later, Sweden native Freddy Claesson recieves a pass from Mike Hoffman and absolutely wires a shot of his own from the point past a screened Varlamov. Boo!
Again, from essentially the same spot as the Claesson goal, Johnny Oduya throws the puck towards Varlamov’s net and Mark Stone, who is among a massive crowd in-front of the goaltender, redirects the puck in.
Three goals in, Swedish natives have a goal and two assists. The fans in Stockholm are definitely having a great time.
MacKinnon and Landeskog have been dynamic off the rush in this game so far. they had their third chance after a beauty rush from MacKinnon got him near the net before he tried to saucer the pass to Landeskog. Unfortunately, the captain couldnt get a stick on it, as he was tired up.
After one period, the Avs are leading the shot battle 10-9, the shot attempts battle 26-18, but are losing the game 2-1. Erik Johnson leading the team with a 71.43% possession.
If the first period was all about speed and free-flowing hockey, this period can be described as is a little more chippy and structured in the neutral zone. Mark Barberio slashes Stone in the hand but doesnt get caught. Stone doesn’t like it and starts going after Barberio, crosschecking him. Neither get a penalty but they certainly drew a crowd.
Samuel Girard gets his first point as an Avalanche off of Kerfoot’s game-tying goal. Girardi recieves the puck in his new office: the offensive blueline. Some high-end puck handling skills and edges draw the Sens winger towards him, allowing Comeau to get off a clear shot that Kerfoot deflects into the net.
The Avalanche lose a battle in the corner and Chris DiDomenico is able to get the puck towards Dion Phaneuf, who pucks it on. Varly makes the save but can’t quite squeeze the rebound. DiDomenico, who is now somehow alone at the side of the net, is able to stuff home the rebound. Colorado back down by a goal.
J.T. Compher gets a little too excited while finishing his check on Alexander Burrows and shoves him to the ground and gets called for a roughing penalty.
The Avalanche penalty killers do a great job of not letting Ottawa get set up and kill it off. Unfortunately, Gabriel Bourque takes a tripping penalty while on the PK. Ottawa is able to keep possession long enough to pull the goalie and take advantage of a 6-on-4 opportunity. The Compher penalty ends as the Avalanche finally touch the puck, and Colorado goes back to a 4-on-5 penalty kill.
On the powerplay, Erik Karlsson makes Girard’s slick play earlier in the game look amateurish, by dangling around a double-team attempt from the Avalanche penalty killers with ease. He is able to get the puck to his defense partner, who is promptly stripped of the puck by Blake Comeau, who springs a streaking Matt Nieto for a breakaway! Nieto is able to get a shot off but was slashed on the play. PENALTY SHOT!
Nieto takes the penalty shot and rips the shot high but Craig Anderson is able to get just enough of the puck, sending it high and wide. Close!
The period comes to a close with not much else happening. The Avalanche were definitely on their back foot in that period, taking two penalties, leading the game in blocked shots (15-9) and getting murdered in the shot counts (3-12 in shots and 11-32 in attempts on net). Not a great period of the team, even if you scored a goal.
The third begins with the same, slow, controlled pace that Ottawa coach Guy Boucher is famous for. As the period goes on, the Avalanche are able to loosen the grip of Ottawa’s trap a little bit and open the play up for more scoring chances, which is what the team needs while down a goal.
Girard loses the puck with a terrible giveaway, leaving Jean-Gabriel Pageau wiiiiiide open for a breakaway chance. He dekes and goes back-hand, but Varly is up to the task and makes the save, keeping the Avalanche in the contest.
Girard seldomly made any mistakes in this game and was very very good all game, but the one time he did, it almost went awry.
It seemed inevitable and it finally happened. The MacRanKog first line completes a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal (that was almost whiffed on by MacKinnon) to tie the game at threes! It was only a matter of time for these three, who have been dominating the play all over the ice, spending oodles of time in the offensive zone.
Four minutes left in regulation, Yakupov hits Phaneuf hard along the boards and away from the play. Dion doesnt appreciate the action and spears Yakupov in retaliation. Yak stays down on the ice as the refs let both plays go.
Colorado gets some great scramble chances as the time ticks down, but they are unable to score before the clock strikes zero. We’re off to overtime!!! Shots in the third were not great for a team that was down for the majority of the frame, 5-10, while the shot attempts were a little better, 14-17.
One minute into the 3v3 frame, Erik Karlsson brings the puck into the zone and mesmerizes the Avalanche defenders. He drops the puck to Derick Brassard who tosses the puck the Stone who is left all alone. He buries it and ends the game. *sigh*
Credit goes to Nathan Rudolph for all the streamable videos in this article.
All in all, this was not a great night for Colorado. Varlamov was able to keep the score close all game, but Ottawa’s defense was able to keep Colorado to the outside all night (err, afternoon) by clogging up the neutral zone. There were moments, especially when the first line was on the ice, that the Avs were able to push the pace of play and get Ottawa on their heels. Players like Kerfoot, Girard, and MacKinnon were able to make skilled moves in the neutral zone to get the puck into the offensive zone for a chance. More plays like that will really help.
Samuel Girard was very impressive all night. He created the play that lead to his first NHL point, his skating and edges are top-notch and his ability to always keep his head up and hit players with passes is something that is very encouraging. The most impressive aspect for me that I saw was his ability to play the puck with purpose and poise at the offensive blue line. Defensemen like Karlsson, Duncan Keith, and Jake Gardiner are players who do this noticably well.
Finally, thank you Stockholm for a great day. The crowd was electric, the anthem singer was unique (NSFW), and the music was fantastic (gotta love when you hear “If you’re happy and you know it” and “Good ‘Ol Hockey Game” in the same playlist).
See you tomorrow at 11:00am MST when these two teams play again at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm!