J.T. Compher scored his first NHL goal and Calvin Pickard made 27-of-28 saves in the process of handing the Detroit Red Wings a 3-1 loss on the first night of a home-and-home.
Once again, the Avs would give up a goal on an inexcusable breakaway early in the contest. Justin Abdelkader retrieved a puck along the half-boards in his own zone and centered the puck back toward the blue line to teammate Andreas Athanasiou. Simple enough to defend, right? Well, apparently not. Both Blake Comeau and Fedor Tyutin were caught fast asleep and were soon rendered mere spectators to an easy breakaway goal (Athan-a-see-you-later!). He beat Calvin Pickard blocker-side for his 16th tally of the season.
But the Avalanche would quickly gather themselves and regain momentum. A Drew Miller hooking penalty near the end of the first period would not lead to a goal, but would prove to be a major catalyst in the remaining 40 minutes. Colorado climbed back in shot attempts and began giving themselves some grade-A opportunities that were turned away only by the sheer force of will by Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Eventually, the Avalanche would break through, however, and it would the guy who had scored just one goal in his last 25 games, Matt Duchene. The play started behind the Red Wings’ net with Rene Bourque collecting the puck and sending it back out front to Fedor Tyutin. The defenseman ripped a quick shot on net that bounced off Howard’s pads, through some ruckus being caused by Gabriel Landeskog out front and right to Duchene, who picked his spot and buried his 17th goal of the year.
Colorado would take their first lead early in the third when Francois Beauchemin sent a long pass to J.T. Compher skating along the blue line. The rookie, playing in his sixth NHL game, quickly entered the zone, found open space and fired a well-placed wrist shot up and over Howard for his very first goal in the National Hockey League.
The Carl Soderberg (of all people) got in the action two minutes later. John Mitchell skated the puck into Detroit’s zone and found Blake Comeau, who spun around to find Soderberg trailing the play wide open, making a move down the high slot. A tape-to-tape pass and a high-velocity wrist shot later and the Avalanche would extend their lead to 3-1.
Detroit would pull their goalie toward the end, but would not manage to score. The victory propelled Colorado’s record to 20-46-3. Still last place, sure, but they’re 1-0 against the Red Wings, which is about as much as you can ask for in 2017.
Game two of the home-and-home will be Saturday afternoon in Detroit, where the Avalanche will play their final game at Joe Louis Arena.
Under the radar tonight: Anton Lindholm +8 in 5v5 shot attempts thus far. Nice first NHL game.— MHH (@MileHighHockey) March 16, 2017