The Colorado Avalanche made up for a depressing first 40 minutes against the Arizona Coyotes with a comeback third period, but ultimately fate told them they could not win the last game before the winter break. At the end of the day, it was a Brad Richardson muffin from the blueline that ended the comeback, giving the Yotes a 6-4 victory at home.
Philipp Grubauer was asked to start this game, his third in four nights, after Semyon Varlamov was deemed unable to play with an injury. He only lasted 28 minutes (four goals on 16 shots) before getting the mercy pull from head coach Jared Bednar. The team was terrible in front of him, none of the goals were his fault in my eyes. Pavel Francouz stepped in for his NHL debut. He stopped 19/20 in his first bit of action, but it was he that gave up the soft game-winning goal so I don’t know how proud he’ll be after the loss.
Mikko Rantanen had a tough game (-2, 2 PIM), but he did get an assist, extending his road scoring streak to 11. It doesn’t mean much after the loss, but at least it’s something.
Off a faceoff, Matt Nieto and Anton Lindholm failed to get the puck out of the zone, and Derek Stepan was able to set up Richard Panik in the middle of the ice for the game’s opening goal.
The Avs got one back right at the end of the period off a really dirty goal. Or could I say coal. I’m sorry, Alexander Kerfoot scored his fifth goal of the season when he banged home a loose puck under goaltender Adin Hill. Credit to Sven Andrighetto for getting the initial centering pass on net and causing the scrum.
Alas, with 4.8 seconds left, the Avs failed to protect the front of the net, and Stepan scored a goal of his own. Neither one of Erik Johnson or Patrik Nemeth were able to grab Stepan’s stick, they weren’t really close, to be honest.
The Avalanche didn’t deserve to leave the first period tied, and they didn’t. Despite ending the period with more shots than their opponent, most of those shots came from the point. The only shot that was in the crease was the Kerfoot goal. After one, the Avs led in shot attempts (20-18), shots (11-9), and in scoring chances (9-2).
Alex Galchenyuk powered through the middle of the ice, splitting the Avs defense. At this point, the front of the ice was (once again) left unguarded and Christian Fischer buried home a centering pass without much trouble. Philipp Grubauer did his best, but he was left out to dry.
Tyson Barrie made a terrible (in hindsight) pinch at the center ice line, and didn’t have Tyson Jost in position to cover him. Mario Kempe beat Barrie to the puck and was able to get the puck to Conor Garland for his first career NHL goal.
Following this goal, Grubauer got the mercy pull from Jared Bednar. Pavel Francouz, who was called up this morning in lieu of Semyon Varlamov’s injury, took over the crease. None of those goals were Grubauer’s fault. They were all grade-A chances from in front of the net.
Mikko Rantanen finally got on the scoreboard...by taking a cross-checking penalty in his own zone right at the end of the period. The Avs’ concerning first turned into a collapsed second as the Coyotes out-attempted (10-17), out-shot (6-10), out-chanced (4-8), and most importantly out-scored (0-2) the Avalanche.
Gabriel Landeskog stripped Alex Goligoski in front of the net on the power play, and J.T. Compher assisted The Captain in bringing the Avs back within two!
On a delayed penalty, Rantanen and Kerfoot thought they scored from in front of the net, but they kept playing, and eventually Rantanen did end up feeding Kerfoot for the goal to bring the Avs back within one! “Do we have a game on our hands?” I said to myself at the time.
And Nathan MacKinnon completed the comeback! With a little over eight minutes to go in regulation, MacKinnon scored his 22nd goal of the season after an incredible shift. First, he hit a Coyotes hard into the boards, stealing the puck back for his team, then worked his magic around the top of the offensive sone before dangling another Coyote before, finally, sniping on Hill to tie the game. Wow!
And with 3:39 left in regulation, the comeback failed in embarassing fashion. Rantanen failed to get the puck out of the zone with his feet, but he was stopped by a stick at the line. Brad Richardson then took the disk and threw it towards Francouz...and scored. A muffin from the blueline, and the Avs were down again.
With two minutes left, the Avs pulled Francouz and went for it. They took a timeout with a minute left following another faceoff, but they simply couldn’t get to the middle of the ice for a chance. Richardson eventually would score the bracewith 11 seconds to go, ending the game.
That’s it for this one, see you after the holiday break when the Avalanche play the Vegas Golden Knights on the road to re-open the season. Halfway there!