The battle of the two youngest NHL clubs faced off at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night. The Colorado Avalanche have half a year on the Columbus Blue Jackets and both teams are primed for a bright future.
Though the Blue Jackets made a strong push towards the end of game, the Avalanche were able hold them off for their 4th straight victory behind Jonathan Bernier’s 33 save night.
Mikko Rantanen got his first GWG of the season and Matt Nieto scored yet another empty net goal to seal it for the Avalanche late.
Both teams started the first period with some energy and moxie though neither was able to get on the board. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen had some great opportunities to start the game but Sergei Bobrovsky looked sharp the entire period and game.
The Avalanche started the second period with some great opportunities that were squandered because they decided to flash back to 2016/2017 and had a pass first mentality. Luckily they snapped out of it in a hurry and regained some of fast paced action that we’ve grown accustomed to with this years team.
The Avalanche were finally able to break the scoreless tie 12:48 into the period by a deflected shot from Rantanen that went off a Blue Jacket defenders knee and then bounced over Bobrovsky’s pad. It was Rantanen’s team leading 7th PP goal of the season and 37th point of the season.
One thing that really stood out in the second period was the Avs ability to shut down the Blue Jackets offense. Columbus only registered 2 shots through the first 12 minutes of the period and ended with 7 shots in the period and most of those coming late on the powerplay. Coach Bednar may have found the combination he was looking for with Tyson Barrie out of the lineup for a while.
Bernier made his save of the night from a wide open Artemi Panarin in front of the Avs net and barely gets his glove on it to keep the Blue Jackets off the board.
The Avalanche out shot the Blue Jackets 25-15 through 2 periods.
The third period was a much different story.
The Blue Jackets came out screaming and didn’t let up the entire period. Columbus fired off 19 shots in the third period and ended up out shooting the Avalanche 34 to 32.
Although the play was mostly driven by Columbus, the Avalanche did a great job of handling rebounds and getting the puck out of the zone.
Antemi Panarin almost tied the game up late with a wide open net from a juicy rebound given off from Bernier but missed high. This game could have easily resulted in a different outcome if he made that shot by the way the Blue Jackets were playing.
Matt Ni-empty-net-o gave the Avalanche some breathing room late in the game catching Bobrovsky heading to the bench and almost getting the paddle on the shot from the blue line. Watching a goalie skate backwards as fast as they can be very comical and even Bobrovsky had a good laugh about it.
- Coach Bedar really limited A.J. Greer’s minutes tonight as he only totaled 7:36 of ice time. Greer didn’t make any costly mistakes for the Avs tonight but was kept in check for most of the game.
- The Avalanche struggled in the face off circle tonight losing 58% of draws. So far this hasn’t made a detrimental impact to wins/losses but face offs become all more important when playoffs start to roll around. Yes, the Avalanche are in the playoff conversation to start 2018.
- MacKinnon had an assist tonight and his point total now sits at 49 and has 9 points in his last 4 games. His MVP type of season continues.
- The Avalanche are riding a 4 game win streak for the first time this season and have what could be the biggest game of the year coming up on Saturday vs the Minnesota Wild.
- Jonathan Bernier continues to be the guy the Avalanche hoped for when they brought him in over the offseason. He’s a serviceable backup goaltender that can carry the load while Varlamov gets healthy.
What’s up Next
The Minnesota Wild come to the Pepsi Center for what should be an emtionally charged game with the Avalanche honoring Milan Hejduk before puck drop. The Wild are currently a team the Avalanche are chasing for wildcard spot with such a competitive Central Division.
The game is set to start at 7pm with the banner raising scheduled to go up at 5:45.