The Colorado Avalanche finished up game 2 of this east coast swing with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils.
After getting a point at MSG against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night, the Avs brought their skating legs in this one. The “new look” Devils are notorious for playing a speed game with a hard forecheck, but the Avs know how to play that style too and they beat the Devils at their own game.
Philipp Grubauer got the nod in net. It’s important to get Grubauer some early confidence this season, as his first start didn’t go so well.
The Avs looked good early on, buzzing around New Jersey goalie Kieth Kinkaid and making sure he was involved early. A couple of early penalties, one from each side, evened things out for most of the rest of the period. The last few minutes saw some undisciplined hockey from both sides. The Avs took three penalties and the Devils took one (a bad penalty one from Palmieri). One of the Avs penalties lead to a PP goal from #1 overall pick Nico Hischier.
So, either Johnson or Nemeth need to stay above the goal line. Whether that’s Nemeth letting Palmieri go behind the net or Johnson just shading him to the boards, where they both ended up simply can’t happen (especially two defenseman who are important to the pk.)
The next period was a more productive one for the Avs. Just after the minute mark, Sven Andrighetto (making his season debut) got a wide open net on a great pass from Kerfoot. Andrighetto then tried his best to not score, fumbling the puck before finally corralling it and firing.....right into the glove of Kinkaid. Luckily for Andrighetto, Kinkaid’s glove was all they way in the net and so was the puck.
The Devils kept taking penalties during the 2nd, and the Avs capitalized on one. It came from the top unit, but this time on the rush.
Man that’s a nice entry pass from Rantanen and MAN was that a great finish from Landeskog.
One goal on the PP wasn’t enough though as with just under 5 minutes left, Taylor Hall gets his first of the the year on a delayed call. Gabriel Bourque looked particularly bad on the play, tripping up Palmieri after a failed rush. He then gets caught puck-watching and leaves Hall alone in the high slot, Hall takes a one-time snapper, you can guess the result. 2-2 at the end of two.
The third period belonged to the Avs. They controlled the play from the beginning , only allowing a PP goal of a goofy bounce off of Brian Boyle’s skate. Otherwise, the Avs top line of Mikko - Mac - Gabe controlled the period. Coach Bednar kept rolling them out and they delivered with Landeskog bagging his 3rd of the night for the hat-trick.
Kinkaid may want that one back, but that’s not how this works! The goal gave Landeskog his third career hat-trick. His first two coming last year in games vs. Washington and Tampa Bay.
Fittingly, Rantanen puts in the empty netter to finish the night 5-3.
There are a few things I took away form this game.
1 - The Devils gave the Avs 6 powerplays, and they only were able to capitalize on one. Going 1-6 on the PP isn’t good. It didn’t cost them tonight, but consistently wasting powerplays won’t be a recipe for success going forward.
2 - Gabriel Landeskog also won a critical face-off in the defensive zone with 21 seconds left in the game. MacKinnon had lost a draw 20 seconds prior. The faceoff totals were 32 for Colorado, 38 for New Jersey. Faceoffs have been problem for a while, and I hope they figure something out soon.
3 - Grubauer looked really solid. The goals he gave up weren’t softies. Hischier had wide open net on the first goal, a wide open Taylor Hall one-time snapper, and a deflection of a skate. It’s hard to really blame him for any of those and I’m certainly not going to complain if Bednar rolls him out for the next game.
The Avalanche will face the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and look to continue gathering points on the road.