Following up their thrilling overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Colorado Avalanche made a statement in their final game in 2017 by lighting up the New York Islanders in a 6-1 win.
The game wasn't particularly close at any point with the Avalanche getting out to an energetic start and then Alexander Kerfoot wanted to prove that he's the best rookie on the ice by crafting some wizardry with a back pass to Patrik Nemeth that nobody believed was actually intentional and the defensive defensemen buried the biscuit at 9:31.
In the second period the Avalanche just simply dominated with four goals, 23 shots and 81% Corsi For share. Carl Soderberg could not get knocked off the puck and along with some hard work from his linemates Blake Comeau and the second goal scorer Matt Neito they converted at 5:25 and Soderberg got a goal of his own at 12:30.
Then the Avalanche decided to have some fun on the power play with two goals scored by Gabe Landeskog at 16:25 and 18:24, the second of which was scored on the two man advantage. The goals were sandwiched around Islanders head coach Doug Weight getting tossed for some unknown reason.
Sam Girard got the promotion to the first power play unit and instantly made it much more fluid and dynamic. Girard was rewarded with two assists on the Landeskog tallies to go along with his assist on the overtime marker in the previous game. The rookie defenseman is finding his groove and heating up.
The third period couldn't end as soon enough for both teams but Josh Bailey broke Jonathan Bernier's shutout bid at 12:24. However Erik Johnson answered back with a wicked backhander at 13:04. The Avalanche also killed their 33rd consecutive penalty, keeping their quietly impressive streak active.
Nathan MacKinnon had another routine three point night and he now sits 5th in league scoring with 46 points in 38 games. His taking the next step really embodies the resurgence and hope for the Avalanche moving into 2018 and beyond.
Life without Tyson Barrie continues and early returns are positive with Girard and the other defensemen picking up the slack and pitching in points. It will be interesting to see how the defense evolves and where his absence is felt in the coming weeks.
Also on the shelf is now JT Compher for at least the next week with an upper body injury and how the Avalanche approach filling his shoes is something to monitor. This could mean an increased role for Tyson Jost and potentially a call up from San Antonio if the Avalanche don't want to tempt fate by carrying only 12 healthy forwards.
A division rival in the Winnipeg Jets comes to town on Tuesday, January 2nd at 7pm MT.