The Colorado Avalanche began their Eastern Conference road trip tonight at the legendary Madison Square Garden against the Rangers tonight. This was a longer one because of overtime and the shootout. There were not quite as many things to like in this one as one would hope for as the Avalanche drop their second straight.
A slow start to this one as the first half was about as inconsequential as it gets, which, after the disaster that was last game last game, is a good thing. Just after the 10 minute mark, though, a Rangers defender rifles a pass down to a breaking Vinni Lettieri flanked by Patrik Nemeth. Nemeth pokes and prods and earns himself a hooking penalty. The play could have awarded Lettieri a penalty shot but I’m not complaining. *Shrug*. Varly looked sharp early on in the ensuing penalty kill but a deflection from Chris Kreider on a Kevin Shattenkirk shot beats him and puts the Rangers up 1-0.
The Rangers had 14 shots in the first 12 minutes of the game, if that tells you anything about how the period was going. Jesper Fast gets called for hooking on Nathan MacKinnon minutes after the first goal. The Avs spent most of the power play in the Rangers zone with no shots to show for it as the penalty is over just as fast as it arrived.
In the dying seconds of the period, Calvert gets sent off for tripping as the penalty bleeds into the second period.
Despite the earlier goal, Varlamov looked sharp and saved a few good chances throughout the period and he is really the reason this game isn’t 3-0 Rangers as the period comes to an end.
As the period begins, the Avs kill off the rest of the earlier tripping penalty and Calvert receives a pass behind the Rangers defense after leaving the box but he loses it off of his skate and the chance ends there. Aside from that, the beginning of the period is all New York. Jimmy Vesey positions himself perfectly behind Sam Girard, Erik Johnson, and the fourth line and earns himself a breakaway. Varlamov makes an incredible save to keep his team in it.
At this point in the game, the Avs passing was off, they couldn’t get any chances, and just weren’t playing well in general. That was until Hayes tripped Colin Wilson up in the neutral zone and the Captain, Gabe Landeskog tips a Tyson Barrie shot past Henrik Lundqvist to score the Avs first goal in 4 and a half periods tying the game 1-1.
Shortly after, Calvert takes a hit from Fredrik Claesson that he doesn’t like and ends up chasing Claesson afterwards, looking to start a fight. Calvert got what he wanted and we have a melee! I would definitely say Calvert got the better of Claesson, but no real slobberknockers were thrown as both guys sit for the next 5.
Matt Calvert and Fredrik Claesson fight pic.twitter.com/xrawZEyeG6— Jimmy Clarke (@JimmyClarke) October 17, 2018
Just after, Hayes makes up for his earlier penalty that caused a goal by ripping a one-timer from the top of the left circle that beats Varly without a screen. 2-1 Rangers.
Landeskog incidentally high sticks our old buddy, Cody McLeod, during a puck battle in front of the Avs net and gets sent off for a double minor. Arguably the Avs best PK guy so far, Calvert, is still in the box for fighting so this one could have gotten ugly quick, but everyone else steps up and successfully kill off both penalties without incident.
The struggling Matt Nieto gets a nice feed from Calvert in front of the net but shoots it wide, facing a wide open net. Not long after that, Mikko Rantanen adds to his team leading point total as he shoots from the top of the circles. Both Landeskog and MacKinnon tip the puck but it will be MacKinnon’s goal that ties the game at 2 for the Avalanche. With that, MacKinnon establishes a franchise record for longest season-opening goal scoring streak at 6, surpassing Mats Sundin at 5.
Nathan MacKinnon established an @Avalanche / Nordiques franchise record for longest season-opening goal streak (6 GP), eclipsing the mark set by Mats Sundin in 1992-93 (5 GP). #NHLStats #COLvsNYR pic.twitter.com/SC8uLuPSUZ— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 17, 2018
The Avs come out shooting as Rantanen has a golden opportunity early but rings his shot off of the crossbar. Flilip Chytil goes off for hooking not long after that. Half way through the Avs power play, Rantanen gets called for holding after a battle at the corner boards. The Avs kill off the minute that was remaining after the 4-on-4 time.
The rest of the period is relatively event-less. The second line spent a bit of time in the offensive zone and has a few good high quality chances but the rest of the game is quiet as we head into overtime tied 2-2.
Bonus, more stressful hockey! Yay! MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Barrie start for the Avs. Bednar learned from his mistake against Calgary where he started Mac, Johnson, and Barrie. How weird right? Anyway, the Rangers win control first and a quick pass sends Skeji behind the Avs on a breakaway. I don’t think I’ve typed the word “breakaway” so many times in one night. Anyway, MacKinnon is forced to take a penalty and they will play 4-on-3. Varlamov bails the Avs out after a series of great saves and the penalty is successfully killed off. Landeskog rings it off the post on the best chance for either team so far. Literally the next play, MacKinnon rings another off the iron and that took us to the end of the period and to the beginning of the shootout.
And the Avalanche fall to the Rangers in the shootout.
We will see the Avs faceoff against the New Jersey Devils in New Jersey on Thursday, October 18th at 5PM MST. See you there!