Well, that was uhhh, interesting. What looked like an ordinary boring game between two last place teams turned into quite the opposite about halfway through the game. The Colorado Avalanche beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-2, but that is far from the big story coming out of tonight’s game.
The Avs penalty kill continued to look great. Their powerplay looked both great and horrible at the same time. And the main concern going into the Christmas break is that Tyson Barrie’s broken hand won’t keep him out of the lineup for too long.
The first period was a bit of a snooze fest aside from the troubling play where Tyson Barrie blocked a shot with his hand. Trainers were looking at the thumb area and Barrie didn’t return to the game. Word after the game is that Barrie has a broken hand and will be out indefinitely. It wasn’t a hard shot, but Barrie made the silly move of turning his hand to block it with the palm. I don’t know what he was thinking but you could tell he was in a lot of pain right away.
The teams ended the first period with 13 shots apiece but no one was able to find the net.
The 0-0 tie carried into the ninth minute of the second period, but that is when all hell broke loose.
It all started when longtime rat Zac Rinaldo took a run at Nathan MacKinnon in the neutral zone. There was nothing really wrong with the hit - though MacKinnon seemed briefly stunned - but Sam Girard went over to Rinaldo to let him know you shouldn’t be touching the superstar. Then, while Girard had his hands down and seemed to be looking away, Rinaldo dropped his gloves and cold-cocked him in the nose.
Girard skated over to Rinaldo who immediately dropped his gloves and sucker punched Girard..... pic.twitter.com/JgltT6qDlu— Avalanche Gifs (@Avs__Gifs) December 24, 2017
It was a blatant sucker punch and something that is completely indefensible. Rinaldo was issued a match penalty on the play so we know he is going to be suspended - we just don’t know for how long. Let’s hope the NHL takes this as seriously as they should and Rinaldo is gone for a long time.
The play resulted in fighting majors for both Nathan MacKinnon and Erik Johnson, who “took care of Rinaldo” and stood up for his young teammate.
That sequence seemed to turn the tide for the Avs as they went on to score four goals in the next five minutes of play. Soderberg, Compher, Yakupov and Nieto all found the back of the net as the secondary scoring broke out in a big way - something the Avs desperately needed.
The Avs gave one back as Derek Stepan scored a short-handed goal late in the period to make the score 4-1 going into the second intermission.
Stepan added his second shorthanded goal of the night to cut the lead to two, and things got a little tense for a very brief moment. Luckily the second powerplay unit came up huge again as Sven Andrighetto scored on Scott Wedgewood who was in the game to replace Antti Raanta.
The scoring was capped off when Carl Soderberg scored one of the prettiest goals of his career - what made it most impressive is that he made the move one on one with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
The final was 6-2 and the Avs get to head into the short Christmas break on a high note. Unfortunately, this game is likely to be remembered for an injury to a key player and an ugly incident involving an opposing weasel more than anything else.
- The penalty kill has been great lately. The Avs have now killed off 23 straight penalties.
- Carl Soderberg played his best game in a long, long time.
- Beautiful boy Nail Yakupov scored the game-winning goal and that is always a great thing.
- If Tyson Barrie is out for any length of time, the Avs are going to need Sam Girard to step up and fill his role.
- I don’t care if you win, you absolutely can’t give up two shorthanded goals in a game
- Zac Rinaldo needs to be suspended for a very long time. Rinaldo has long been one of the dirtiest players in the league and his sucker punch on Sam Girard shows he’s still got it in him.
- Coyotes color commentator Tyson Nash should be embarrassed for the way he defended Rinaldo after the sucker punch. I get being a homer on the broadcast, but for Nash to say things like “he had it coming” and “you have to expect to get popped” makes him sound like an out of touch caveman.
- These two teams play again in a few days, hopefully no more craziness breaks out