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Avalanche finish strong, defeat Matt Duchene and the Ottawa Senators 6-3

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After a terrible start, Colorado bursts forward in an incredible comeback to nab an impressive victory at home

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Colorado Avalanche
Oct 26, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) and defenseman Erik Johnson (6) celebrate the win over the Ottawa Senators at the Pepsi Center.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

That was an interesting one for sure. After nearly tearing my hair out from the horrendous first period play, my jaw slowly dropped as the Avalanche not only mounted a comeback, but put up goal after goal until the Senators were beaten into submission, ending in a 6-3 score. Mikko Rantanen was especially good tonight, accumulating four points, with the rest of the top line not far behind.

Let’s walk you through it.

First Period

The Ottawa Senators got the early lead on a Ryan Dzingel snipe at 2:42. The Avs were having a pretty pathetic start outside of the first couple of shifts, but then the home team got in two long shifts in the Sens’ zone. After a clock malfunction though the game evened up a bit more.

Despite this, the lead was extended on a Matt Duchene deflection, the game now 2-0. The defense has been atrocious so far, they need to wake up. Of course to make things worse, the Avs were called for too many men. The PK was very strong though and killed it, and it was followed up by a dominant shift by the top line.

This was followed up by a long string of very solid shifts by the Avalanche, but they had nothing to show for it unforunately. With the period’s conclusion, Colorado remained down by two goals. Shots were 13-11 in Ottawa’s favor.

Second Period

The Avs came out looking 100% better, immediately getting a couple of quality shots on net. This cooled off by mid-period, and the Avalanche started having difficulties in the offensive zone. The passes simply weren’t crisp.

Things changed though on an excellent shift by the MacKinnon line. Gabriel Landeskog dished a nice pass to Sam Girard in the slot, who scored into a wide-open net. Unfortunately Matt Duchene negated that with a two-on-one goal. Score now 3-1.

A break was caught though with a Bobby Ryan tripping penalty. A cross-ice pass from Nathan MacKinnon to Mikko Rantanen was enough to convert it, with the big Finn securing the league-lead in points with his fifth goal.

The Avalanche now had some serious momentum, and it was solidified by a hooking penalty on Thomas Chabot with 56 seconds left in the period. The Avs didn’t score before the period ended, with the score still 3-2 in the Senators’ favor. Shots now in the Avs’ favor 23-20. Much, much better period from the team, and Colorado is trending upward in this game.

Third Period:

Right at the end of the powerplay, Carl Soderberg threw a shot off the back of Craig Anderson’s pads and into the net. This tied the game at 3-3.

We then saw the best shift of the season from the team, by—guess who—the MacKinnon line. There was no goal scored, but it was the single most commanding segment of play I’ve seen in awhile and it ended with the crowd roaring on their feet. Soon after, Rantanen drove through into the offensive zone and fed a beautiful pass to an open Landeskog, who put the puck in the top left corner to secure the lead.

The Avalanche weren’t finished. Rantanen fed MacKinnon for the fifth Avalanche goal in the game. The momentum was dampered though when Erik Johnson was called for tripping, although personally I think that was an absolutely necessary as the Ottawa player was on a semi-breakaway, and that was the only feasible way to stop him.

The penalty kill was stellar though, preventing a goal and Colorado picked up right where they left off. MacKinnon flew down the left side, and tossed a pass to a wide-open Matt Nieto who put the Avalanche up 6-3.

With a minute and a half left, Ryan Dzingel held Nikita Zadorov to cause a power play for the remainder of the game. No score on the opportunity, and the game ends at 6-3.

Takeaways

  • The top line... just wow. Last year Nathan MacKinnon was still on a bit of an island in terms of driving possession, but Landeskog and Rantanen are absolutely excelling in that area right now and the points are most definitely coming. No one can stop this line, I don’t care if you put Nashville’s shutdown line and top defensive pair on the, those guys are going to score.
  • Is Girard’s potential sky-high, or is it to the moon? He is so impressive I can hardly even express it. People around the league need to wake up and see what this kid is doing. He’s a twenty year old playing top pair minutes, and absolutely excelling at both ends of the ice. Imagine how many points he’ll be getting when he reaches his ceiling.
  • Special teams are something special. Great performances from the power play and penalty kill.
  • Now how about that bounce-back? The Avalanche played horribly in the first period and were down two-nothing. Not only that, but they Avs actually had a chance tonight to change the odds of the draft pick they’d be getting back (if ever so slightly), so to go down to a team that is supposed to be terrible would be absolutely demoralizing. And when they finally did get the first goal, the Senators negated that with a goal of their own. At that point it would have been easy to just throw in the towel and give up. But instead the Avs scored again, and again, and again, and again, and AGAIN! They responded in the best way possible: the defense locked down (holding the Sens to just 24 shots) and the offense exploded (getting 37 shots). That third period was so good I’d like to record the whole thing and just watch it whenever I’m feeling down.
  • Hopefully this loss propels the Senators in a downward spiral and they end up giving us Jack Hughes.
  • Also of note was Duchene, who played really well netting two goals. I personally (as a hard core Avalanche fan) have zero animosity towards him, I hope he goes out there and wins a Stanley Cup someday. There were some boos tonight, but he did receive a generally warm reception when the tribute video was shown, with the angry fans drowned out by the cheers. Duchene may not have left the team in the best of circumstances, but I think the Avs’ organization bears a lot of responsibility for that situation, and as much as I hated to see him want out of Denver I totally understand it.

What’s next:

The Avalanche head to Minnesota to face the Minnesota Wild at 6:00pm MT.