The Colorado Avalanche headed into a matinee match with the New York Rangers seeking their ninth win in a row in front of a sold out crowd at the Pepsi Center. With a 3-1 victory, the Avalanche continue their amazing winning streak as the hottest team in hockey with now the longest streak seen in the NHL this season.
As what has been the case during the streak, the Avalanche opened the scoring at the nine minute mark with a fantastic pass from Mikko Rantanen in which Erik Johnson redirected backdoor into the net.
To start the second period at 2:34, Nathan MacKinnon continued what he has been doing on a nightly basis and that's scoring huge goal for his team to put them up by two. The cushion wouldn't last long as Pavel Buchnevich converted at 6:55 on the power play.
The third period was a quick back and forth affair with a few tense moments but the Avalanche still controlling the majority of the play. Rantanen sealed the victory with one second remaining on an empty net goal.
While it was a wide open game at times and the Rangers certainly had some chances, this was a game the Avalanche largely dominated and did so playing most of the game only holding a one goal lead. The referees swallowed the whistles as each team only had one power play opportunity and the battle was fought at even strength. The Avalanche won the advantage in shots 37-28 and the possession battle each period ending with 61% CF total with no Avalanche player ended up lower than 55% CF. This game showed what this group is capable of when everyone comes together.
There were glimpses of the "frat line" with Alexander Kerfoot, JT Compher and Tyson Jost reunited for several shifts. Their energy and tenacity combined with skill and creativity could provide benefits down the road if the trio can grow together as a line.
The looming question is how they will work in some injured players when they return in short order. Tyson Barrie, Semyon Varlamov and Sven Andrighetto could return as early as next week's trip or after all-star weekend. With how the team is rolling right now it's not as easy as it seems to just reinsert a player who has been missing through the streak. Adding good players to an already good thing seems like an obvious no brainier but perhaps their roles should be managed a bit more carefully upon return.
The Avalanche begin a set of six games on the road in Toronto at 5:30pm MT on Monday, January 22nd.