This one felt really good for Colorado Avalanche fans, especially after that frustrating loss in Ohio. It was also quite fun to watch, the pedal was to the metal all the way through the game. Let’s take you through it:
The Avalanche started the game looking a little sloppy on their passes, but started to sharpen things up and get some good chances. The period really looked good for them, excluding a long shift in their own zone, but eventually their good plays led to a drawn penalty.
While Jake McCabe headed off for hooking at 9:16, the top powerplay unit got to work. They were rewarded with a goal, a Tyson Jost deflection on a Tyson Barrie blast from the point.
Very shortly after, Carl Soderberg was tripped by Carter Hutton to give the Avalanche another man advantage opportunity. The first unit didn’t get going, but the second unit did get some great chances. The first was a beautiful long pass from Samuel Girard to Colin Wilson, who found himself on a breakaway. He didn’t score, but that wouldn’t matter.
The reason I say that is because later in the penalty, Girard shot it from the point into a defender, and Wilson collected the puck off the block and put it in the net. Avalanche now up two-zip.
Colorado wasn’t finished though. Gabriel Bourque sent a nice opportune pass to Soderberg, who made a really nice snipe to put the Avs up 3-0. Unfortunately, the Avalanche committed a too many men penalty. Ian Cole took a shot to the knee, and he headed off into the locker room (he did return though, but it’s a thing to keep an eye on).
With 16 seconds left in the penalty kill, MacKinnon was called for hooking. There was no score fortunately on the 5-on-3, but Kyle Okposo scored during the remaining time. Or did he? The Avalanche challenged for goaltender interference, and the call was correctly overturned. That was about as clear of a goalie interference as I’ve ever seen, and it’s good to see it go their way.
The period ended with 1:02 on the penalty kill, shots tied at 11.
The Avalanche killed the remaining time, and a few minutes later they got a power play opportunity of their own via a Nathan Beaulieu tripping. Midway through, Alex Kerfoot was called for interference to cause a 4-on-4. Colorado killed the ensuing penalty.
The game took a turn for the worse at the midpoint of the period, with the Sabres holding the puck in the Avs’ zone for two long shifts. Colorado wasn’t doing enough to interfere in the passing lanes, and Buffalo had nearly free reign to pick and choose what chances to take.
To make things worse, Vladislav Kamenev took an interference penalty to give the buzzing Sabres a prime chance to cut down the lead. The PK was absolutely exceptional though, and Buffalo couldn’t convert. Nikita Zadorov had other plans though, and dished out a hit on the boards on Casey Mittelstadt to give the Buffalo Sabres another 2:00 (although as Peter McNab pointed out, Mittelstadt turned his numbers toward Zadorov instead of his shoulder).
No conversion for the Sabres there, but Nathan Beaulieu shot the puck from the point at 17:05, and it just squeaked through to ruin the shutout. Colorado answered right back though, with a sweet wrist shot from none other than Nathan MacKinnon (and Rantanen with an apple).
With 1.9 seconds left, Johan Larsson slashed Matt Nieto to give the Avs a very nice gift for the start of the third period.
The Avalanche weren’t able to convert, but not for lack of good chances (there were plenty). Carter Hutton was the Sabres best penalty killer, and he was really the only reason the Avs didn’t score.
Keeping within the theme of this game, there was ANOTHER penalty, this time Matt Calvert at 6:33 for hooking. The Avalanche had another good kill, preventing a goal against. Alex Kerfoot went off again for two minutes, this time for holding. Penalty killed AGAIN.
Kerfoot made up for all that though. Tyson Barrie made a beautiful long pass to Kerfoot, who scored on the newfound breakaway. Avalanche now up an astounding 5-1. That wasn’t all though. The most dangerous player in the game (MacKinnon of course) found himself on his own breakaway. That was most definitely a goal, making the lead even more insurmountable at 6-1.
That was the last real event, game ends with Avalanche still on top 6-1. Shots ended up 30-31 in Buffalo’s favor, although given the amount of penalties the Avs took it’s not super surprising to see Buffalo have more.
- There were a couple people doubting whether or not MacKinnon can replicate what he did last season, and by all measures he looks like he can. What’s amazing is that he’s not even carrying the team anymore, as the Avalanche actually have some much needed scoring depth.
- Speaking of scoring depth, every single player on the second line had a goal (Jost, Kerfoot, and Wilson). Did that happen even once last season? This line again looked good (especially Jost) , and it should excite everyone watching this team how potent this offensive attack is looking.
- Okay, so not everything was good in this one, and I hate to be negative here, but there was some pretty poor discipline in this game from Colorado. Seven penalties is never a good thing.
- On the bright side though, the special teams were absolutely exceptional and were the main reason the team pulled this one off. The power play was lethal, scoring on 2/4 chances, and the penalty kill came up huge, succeeding on all seven penalties. Both PP units were great as well, something the Avs didn’t have last year.
- Personally though, the true hero of the game was Semyon Varlamov. The only goal he let in just barely got through, and everything else he absolutely locked down. I know you don’t need perfect goaltending in a blowout game, but he’s what made the blowout possible in the first place.
The Colorado Avalanche come home to the Pepsi Center to play the Calgary Flames on Saturday, October 13th. Always love when I can say it’s a fire-and-ice matchup!