Life without Nathan MacKinnon got off to a decent start for the Colorado Avalanche, as they walked away from their first full game without him with a 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.
After an entirely uneventful first period, things began to heat up in the second.
Nikita Zadorov kicked off the scoring from the unlikeliest of sources, with a great pinch and wrist shot to give the Avalanche the lead at 3:04 in the second frame. Sam Girard scored his first goal as an Avalanche soon after, netting one on the power play at 7:52 off of a slick slap shot.
Then things got interesting, as Connor McDavid got the Oilers on the board shortly after at 9:11. Drake Caggiula looked like he scored to tie, but a goaltender interference challenge ruled that he shoved the puck - along with goaltender Jonathan Bernier's glove in the net - and therefore no goal.
Mikko Rantanen was penalized on the sequence, but Blake Comeau scored shorthanded to give the Avalanche the 3-1 lead with 29 seconds left in the period - and the team took the lead into the second intermission after a wild few minutes of play.
In the early third period, Caggiula got his goal back - and this time it counted, narrowing Colorado’s lead to one at 6:52. It looked like the Avalanche were going to hold on and escape with this one in regulation, when McDavid got another goal to tie the game with 27 seconds - and with that, the game was headed into overtime.
JT Compher buried a rebound from Tyson Barrie at 2:28 into the extra frame, to give the Avalanche a much needed victory after a hard fought and evenly played game.
Getting two goals from defensemen and two from depth forwards is exactly what the Avalanche needed, as they head into a stretch of games without Hart candidate Nathan MacKinnon. It won't be easy to replace his presence and production, but the team stepped up as a whole in a good team victory as a good first sign.
Giving up leads was something the Avalanche did not do during their 10-game win streak, and blowing third period leads in this game (and the previous one in Vancouver) is something the team will need to address. Still, they found a way to come up with three points over the two games so it hasn't been catastrophic yet.
Another big piece of the team will enter back in the lineup with Semyon Varlamov scheduled to start his first game in a month. It will be very interesting to see how he handles the net after Bernier played so well and earned NHL third star for the month with his efforts.
The last stop on the road trip kicks off at 5pm MT on Saturday, February 3rd in Winnipeg.