This one hurts. The Buffalo Sabres came into Denver with only one win in their last twelve games. We can now make it two as the Colorado Avalanche fell to the Sabres 4-2 in a game they really had to win.
The team now goes on a tough road trip and it would have been nice to leave the homestand on a high note. At least they now get their captain back in the lineup as Gabrial Landeskog has finished serving his suspension.
It wasn’t a particularly bad effort, the Avs looked pretty good most of the night, they just continue to have trouble finding the back of the net. The inability to score at 5v5 cost the Avs. This team has turned into the Nathan MacKinnon Show, and if they’re going to want to get back to winning games, the rest of the team is going to have to start picking up the slack.
The Avs were able to come up with a better start than we’ve been used to during this homestand. They had sustained pressure on the Sabres for the first five minutes but were unable to convert on an early powerplay.
After that, the teams were very evenly matched. The rest of the period was made up of a lot of back and forth play with very few scoring chances. Varly did make one big save to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0 going into the intermission.
The Sabres were able to open the scoring five and a half minutes into the second on a shorthanded goal by Benoit Pouliot. He was able to fire home a one-timer after a great individual play by Ryan O’Reilly.
After Varlamov robbed Evander Kane to keep the game 1-0 midway through the second, Nathan MacKinnon fired home an incredible wrist shot to tie the game up on the powerplay. The goal was assisted by Alex Kerfoot and Mikko Rantanen, but the play initiated by a tremendous play at the point by Tyson Barrie.
With a minute left in the period, the Avs caught a very tough break as Jake McCabe gave the Sabres a 2-1 lead. The play clearly looks offside from the replays, however, inexplicably it was not overturned after the review. Another questionable call on an offside review that comes up against the Avs.
Trailing by a goal going into the third, the Avs didn't seem to let the disappointment of the previous period get to them. Colorado was the better team for the first ten minutes and they were finally able to tie it up as Nathan MacKinnon scored his second of the night - and tenth of the season - on the powerplay.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t stay tied for long as Evander Kane was able to score on a wraparound as the teams were playing 4 on 4. The goal was Kane’s team-leading 13th of the season.
With the goalie on the bench for the final two minutes of the game, the Avs were able to put on a ton of pressure. Unfortunately, Jack Eichel was able to use his elite speed to get away from the defenders and put the game away with an empty net goal to make the final 4-2.
- I love watching Samuel Girard play. He’s so smooth with the puck and makes plays that you don’t often see from other players. An example of this was early in the first when he made a bounce pass off the boards behind his own net to Erik Johnson in order to start the breakout. It’s the little things that separate good players from great ones.
- Once again, Rocco Grimaldi was not good from a defensive perspective. He was the team’s worst forward in corsi differential at 5v5.
- This was the fifth straight home game where the opponents scored the first goal. This simply can’t continue.
- Anton Lindholm had his best game since coming back from injury.
- The NHL has a lot of work to do when it comes to their offside review rule. This is the second time this season we've seen mass confusion and a goal that was clearly offside count as a goal.
The Avalanche head east as they start a road trip against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. We will get a chance to watch the most dynamic duo in the NHL as the Avs try to slow down Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.