What a Finnish.
The two Avalanche forwards, who rank first and second in the NHL in scoring this season, each tallied three points as Colorado came back from a 3-1 deficit for the road victory. Rantanen now has 32 points this season (a 131 point pace).
After MacKinnon drew a penalty on a net charge with 15 seconds remaining in the 3-on-3, Gabriel Landeskog won the faceoff but it leaked into the neutral zone and the Avalanche had to regroup. Calm and collected, MacKinnon crossed the blue-line and found his linemate across the ice, already cocked and loaded for a one-time slap shot. Rantanen beat Ryan Miller with the shot and the Avalanche won their 10th game of the season and the 1,000th came since relocating from Quebec in 1995.
The first line connected on all three of Colorado’s goals as the Avalanche climbed from a two-goal hole. Late in the second period on the power play, MacKinnon scored on a rebound after a point shot from Tyson Barrie.
Then in the third period, MacKinnon was set up for a one-time shot after ridiculous body work and board play from Rantanen behind the net. MacKinnon was originally credited with the goal, his second of the game, but upon further review the shot glanced off of the captain Landeskog.
One goal for Nate, one goal for Gabe, and the winning goal for Mikko might just be enough to convince Boston fans that Colorado, in fact, has the best line in hockey.
Anaheim entered the game as the second-worst team in shot-suppression (only the Avalanche-first-round-pick-holding Ottawa Senators ranked worse) but during the early parts of the game, Colorado struggled to exploit the weak Ducks defense.
In the opening 20 minutes, Colorado seemed careless with the puck. The team accrued 11 shots on goal, but didn’t seriously test Miller nary a couple of opportunities from the fourth line. It seemed like the most dangerous players for the Avalanche through the first period were Marko Dano and Erik Johnson — not exactly a recipe for success.
Anaheim defenseman Brandon Montour opened the scoring 4:45 into the contest on a wraparound, a rarity for blueliners. The sequence developed quickly and Montour made an alert play to scoop up a rebound from Pontus Aberg’s shot. There wasn’t a lot that the Avalanche defense, nor Phillipp Grubauer, could really do different and they fell behind 1-0 early.
In the second period, the Avalanche had a surge in shot attempts and Sven Andrighetto equalized a couple minutes into the frame. Patrik Nemeth created the opportunity with a tremendous sequence, one-timing a Vladislav Kamenev pass, gloving the rebound, shooting again, and working the puck over to Andrighetto who slipped a short-side wrister past Miller to tie the game.
But right after Colorado made its way back into the game, Nikita Zadorov — fresh off a pair of healthy scratches — took a head-scratching penalty and sent the Ducks to the power play. Ryan Getzlaf sniped one, and Anaheim went back into the lead, 2-1. Zadorov had another weak performance and it’s not apparent what the solution to the sixth-defenseman revolving door of he and Mark Barberio is at the moment (it might be at the University of Massachusetts).
Shortly after, Ducks winger Ondrej Kase deflected in another goal. Again, it wasn’t really a defensive breakdown or poor netminding from Phillipp Grubauer, but it resulted in a 3-1 Ducks advantage nevertheless.
But faced with adversity, the Avalanche top line created magic and Colorado stole a road win in a game in which it didn’t look like it would be done.
The Avalanche will stay in their Southern California hotel for three nights before facing the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday at 8:30pm MT.
Here are a few other takeaways:
- Colin Wilson missed the game with a lower-body injury. In his absence, Alex Kerfoot was a bit invisible. Not bad, but not really noticeably dangerous. Let’s hope Wilson is back soon to help out with the depth scoring.
- Grubauer’s start was his second in a row and he was impressive again. If not for a great overtime stop on Getzlaf, MacKinnon and Rantanen wouldn’t have had a chance to win the game.
- The Avalanche are now 10-6-4 on the season, which at the moment is in a playoff spot.
- Tyson Barrie added another point. He now has 17 points this season, which ranks sixth in the league. He and MacKinnon tied for the team lead in shots on goal with seven.
- This recap is Finnished. [Editor’s Note: You can’t use the same joke twice, Skyler!]