The Colorado Avalanche hit the road for the first time in the 2018-19 season when they faced the Columbus Blue Jackets hoping to keep their undefeated streak alive. All good things must come to an ends as a sloppy affair led to the Avalanche’s first loss of the season, falling 5-2 in Columbus.
Despite getting an early first period power play the Avalanche did not have a successful first period as they were outshot 17-9 and gave up two goals. The first to Nick Foligno at 6:49 due to some suspect coverage around the net and then at 10:32 Pierre-Luc Dubois converted on a rebound on a 5v3 power play. It looked like one of those road games that quickly gets out of reach.
Luckily the second period was a much different story as Nathan MacKinnon reminded everyone in the eastern timezone of his MVP capabilities and rifled a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 3:27. Sam Girard would appear to get the equalizer on the power play, which was eventually determined bounced off Carl Soderberg somehow at 9:30. The Avalanche were back in business with an even game again.
However the third period was much like the first after the Avalanche could not capitalize on an early power play and then defensive break downs led to two goals against. Artemi Panarin did what he does best at 5:14 and sniped goaltender Philipp Grubauer after the defense gave him time to pick his spot. Then Foligno added his second goal of the night at 11:32. The Avalanche gave up a much too easy empty net goal for good measure and that was that, a 5-2 final.
Sam Girard continues to show his upward trajectory by again playing over 20 minutes in this contest, ending up with one of the highest Corsi For percentages of the team at 56.67 and created a goal on the power play for his second point on the season. He was electric in skating with and moving the puck particularly when the game was in reach. Unfortunately a byproduct of giving Girard that large of a role is that Nikita Zadorov’s role has been diminished and when he doesn’t play as much Zadorov becomes prone to slowing down and overthinking things. Patrik Nemeth’s imminent return from a minor injury could shake things up on defense.
A different forward lineup could also be in store next game as Gabe Landeskog was in the lineup tonight despite some questions about his health and a lower body injury he is dealing with. His play was ok but he didn’t look quite as nimble and played just over 17 minutes. Sheldon Dries played seven minutes, which was actually an increase, but took two penalties and saw almost no third period action. Seems he would be an easy scratch to get fellow rookie Valdislav Kamenev in the lineup. Dries was far from culpable but it is likely too early to hope for scratches of veterans with putrid starts to the season in Matt Nieto and Gabe Bourque. who were at 16.67 and 23.08 CF% respectively in this contest.
Blame for this loss hardly rests on Philipp Grubauer with what he had to deal with in front of him but it was a tough follow up to Semyon Varlamov putting up two wins and a 1.50 Goals Against Average with a .948 Save Percentage. Grubauer is going to have to steal the show on more than one occasion to unseat Varlamov and thus far he has not accomplished that.
The road trip ends in Buffalo to take on the new look kid Sabres at 5pm MT on Thursday, October 11th.