The Colorado Avalanche win their seventh game in a row, beating the Anaheim Ducks handily 3-1. Jonathan Bernier is the star of the show, improving to a perfect 6-0-0 in as many games, with a .961 sv% plus a shutout. Only seven goals allowed for Bernie in that span.
The Avalanche kick off the game with five chances in a row within the first two minutes. Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Johnson, Carl Soderberg, and Blake Comeau all with good attempts on net. Sam Girard on the back end has looked dynamic.
Cam Fowler and the Ducks would eventually get their wings under them and quack back with three of their own. Former Duck Jonathan Bernier remains steady, keeping the game scoreless.
Soderberg’s third line work hard along the boards to get the puck to the point. Blake Comeau puts the puck on net from the high slot and Matt Nieto — who is playing in his 300th career game — swats at the rebound, barely getting it through goaltender Ryan Miller. Soderberg was there to make sure the puck crossed the goal-line but the goal would be awarded to Nieto.
Gabriel Bourque draws a high-sticking penalty on Jakob Silfverberg, sending the Avs to the first power play of the game. The top unit creates a few chances but the big opportunity came from the stick of Nail Yakupov. The Russian winger’s big slapshot nearly found its mark, but chimed off the post instead.
Mark Barberio cross-checks Chris Wagner into the boards, giving the Ducks their first power play chance. As expected, Corey Perry’s butt “couldn’t stop” itself from pushing Bernier into his own net. Credit to the penalty killers for not allowing the puck to go into the net, which would have lead to a lengthy goalie interference review.
It was a fairly even period between these two clubs. The Avalanche head into the intermission with a 21-17 shot attempt advantage, 9-12 shot disadvantage, but a 10-6 scoring chance lead. Even period, but the Avs have been getting the better chances thusfar.
These two teams oncce again start the period with some end-to-end action. Gabe Landeskog forces Miller into making a tough save that the netminder could only deflect the puck off the post and out. Cam Fowler is once again using his footwork to get some shots towards the traffic in front of the net. Finally back the other way, Tyson Jost catches up to a broken pass and gets a good chance on the Anaheim net.
Korbinian Holzer takes a tripping penalty two minutes into the second. On the power play, Sam Girard rips a shot from the point that bounces up and over goaltender Miller. Mikko Rantanen almost is able to deflect the rebound off a sprawling Miller and in, but the puck passes right through the crease, undisturbed. Close.
Halfway into the period and game, Soderberg picks up the puck in the neutral zone and basically jukes, crosses, toe-drags, and dangles three Anaheim defenders before getting a slick backhander off that Miller stops with his arm. Great moves from the big man.
Bernier robs Ryan Kesler with a huge diving paddle save on one end, allowing the play to go back the other way. Nathan MacKinnon takes the puck in the slot, cocks, and the All-Star fires home the second goal of the game for the boys in burgundy, his 20th goal of the season already!
Shall we take another look at that one? pic.twitter.com/APP0tot8lc— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 15, 2018
Dat toe drag doe.
Newly acquired J.T. Brown comes in off the wing, drops the puck back to Josh Manson. Manson’s shot is stopped by Bernier but the rebound ricocheted off Wagner, past Bernier, and barely into the net.
Sam Girard sees some daylight in front of him and decides to rush the puck past three Anaheim players with utter grace. Girard not only gets a good shot on goal that leads to offensive zone-time for the Avalanche but also draws a penalty on the play. This kid is only 19-years-old!
On the power play, Jakob Silfverberg is forced to hook a streaking Colin Wilson while on an almost-breakaway, giving the Avalanche a short 5-on-3 man advantage.
Wilson, the man who drew the second penalty, scores his Gretzky goal — his 99th of his career — and the third goal of the game for the Avalanche from right in the slot after some great movement near the blue line by Erik Johnson and Alex Kerfoot. Alex’s primary assist is his 30th point of the season and the two goal lead is restored heading into intermission.
The Avalanche remain in control of the game, leading the shot attempts battle by a wide margin (47-34), the scoring chance battle (21-17), and tying the Ducks in shots (26-26). Both goaltenders have had to face a lot of rubber in this high-event game. Both are on pace to see close to 40 shots each.
Three minutes in, Lindholm steps up at the red line to stop Antoine Vermette but elbows him in the face instead. The dangerous play obviously means two minutes in the box.
The Ducks had their chances, but only two shots on goal. The Avalanche are a perfect 2/2 on the penalty kill so far this afternoon.
The Avs crawl into a bit of a turtle shell in the third getting outshot 7-3 in the period with a two-goal lead and seven minutes to play. That being said, this doesn’t feel like a game where the Avs blow the lead late, they seem very much in control.
As I write the above bit of information, Andrei Kase takes a high-sticking penalty, the Ducks’ sixth of the game. Getting a goal here would ice this game nicely. *Two minutes later* turns out, just passing the puck around without getting a shot on goal was the plan.
The clock ticks down.
Randy Carlyle pulls Miller with three minutes to go.
The clock continues to tick down, the Avs doing a great job of keeping the Ducks to the edges and out of the zone.
The clock ticks all the way down to zero, the Avalanche completely shutting down the Anaheim Ducks in the final five minutes of the game.
Your Three Stars:
*** Nathan MacKinnon
** Carl Soderberg
* Jonathan Bernier
We’ll see you on Thursday as the San Jose Sharks swim into town. Puck drop at 7:00PM MT. Fingers crossed we get to see a perfect 8-0-0 in 2018!