What a road trip. After grabbing seven out of a possible eight points on their journey through the Metropolitan Division, the Colorado Avalanche return home for a big test against the Lighting Wednesday night.
It was a solid all around effort, but once again it was the top line that carried the weight.
Jordan Weal of the Flyers took an early tripping penalty, sending the Avs to the power play. Aside from a short-handed scare by Scott Laughton early on, the top unit was able to set up in the offensive zone and score. With Tyson Jost causing havoc in front of the net, Mikko Rantanen and then Nate MacKinnon got off two great chances from the wing before Rantanen got the puck back with an open net and buried home the power play goal. Gabe Landeskog picked up the second assist.
The Avs used the momentum from that goal to really take over the game and apply pressure in the offensive zone. Erik Johnson and Sven Andrighetto each had a great chance, the former even setting up the latter for a good chance at the side of the net following a broken play. Brian Elliott has been pretty wild in his net, scrambling left and right in order to keep up with the quick puck movement around him.
Christian Folin of the Flyers tried to chip the puck across the ice from the penalty box side of his own blueline, but he sailed the puck up and over the glass, which is a delay of game penalty. On the power play, Sam Girard set up Andrighetto twice for great chances. The first chance, Elliott didn’t know where thee puck went, but on the second, he was able to deflect it up and out of play.
After a long stretch of largely uneventful hockey, the Avalanche to stretch the lead to two late in the second. A little more than five minutes into the second, Matt Nieto scored his first of the season on a nice one-timer set up by the hard work of Matt Calvert.
The Avalanche only had a handful of scoring chances in the period, but the goal was enough to take a 2-0 lead into the third period.
Starting the period with the captain in the box, the Avs were able to kill off the penalty in impressive fashion until Landy was able to get out of the box and score his sixth goal in the last three games.
After a clean faceoff win by the Flyers (remember what I’ve said about faceoffs?) , Gabe was able to steal the puck and rush down on a breakaway to beat Brian Elliot for his eighth goal of the season.
The goal gave the Avs a 3-0 lead and enough breathing room that the game was never in doubt.
After a Nolan Patrick goal that cut the lead to 3-1, Mikko Rantanen finished things off with an empty netter to make the final 4-1.
Another impressive win finishing the road trip off at 3-0-1.
- Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon became the first Avalanche teammates to start a season with a point streak of at least nine games. Each has earned at least a point in every game the team has played this season.
- Gabriel Landeskog is so hot right now.
- Semyon Varlamov was very good in a game that the Avs were once again outshot by their opponent.
- There is a lot of really good young talent on the Flyers. Travis Sanheim was their best player tonight while both Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny were incredibly dangerous trough the second half of the game.
- Marko Dano had a decent debut with the Avalanche. In a little more than 9 minutes (all 5v5) he finished the game with two shots on net, two hits and two takeaways, but was on the ice for the lone goal against.
The Avalanche head home for a big game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night, When the season began, if you said one of those two teams would come into the game in first place in the NHL, fans would have bought it. They just wouldn’t have believed that first place team would have been the Avalanche.