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Nashville Downs Colorado in a Tough Back-to-Back Matchup

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The Avs, although deserving of the win, lose 4-2 to the NHL’s top team.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I doubt many Avalanche fans expected the team to be in this game at all, as they took on the most powerful team in the West.

Not only were they in it, though, but they were often in control of it. Needless to say, the points would’ve been nice, but this is a loss I’m honestly not too upset about. Let’s walk you through it:

First Period:

To start the game, rookie defender Samuel Girard drew a penalty to put Nashville shorthanded for holding.

The Avs were able to get some good chances, but were ultimately unable to convert. Colorado surprisingly began dominating the early play- but that was quickly stuttered to a halt when Landeskog headed to the box for tripping, putting the Predators on the powerplay.

Despite some solid opportunities, the Avalanche killed it off. The Avs kept up their dominant play, outshooting the Preds 8-4 in the first half of the period. However Tyson Barrie took a befuddling slashing call, confusing in that there was no reasonable explanation for it occurring. Nevertheless, the penalty kill stood tall again and Nashville failed again. Unfortunatley, the Preds managed to hold it in the offensive zone and were rewarded with a Colton Sissons goal.

Nathan MacKinnon had something to say (or rather do) about that, and blasted a one-timer in the top of the net near the end of the period. Game is tied 1-1, with the shots in the Avs favor 12-10.

Second Period:

Early in the period, Gabriel Bourque and Landy were driving the net hard and were duly rewarded with a Landeskog goal. Nashville answered soon after on a bit of a weird goal by Filip Forsberg. The puck hit the post on a Craig Smith shot and bounced off of Varlamov’s back and onto the stick of Forsberg.

The play seemed to be fairly even, with the Avs getting the slight edge, but Sissons scored his second goal with 6 minutes left. Nashville then took an interference call, and the Avs came on with the man advantage. The Avs failed to convert, and subsequently took a holding penalty. It was on Nathan MacKinnon, and it looked to me more like it was on the Nashville player. The Avs killed off the third penalty to end the period. Game is 3-2, despite Colorado leading the shots 27-22.

Third Period:

The Avalanche had some difficulty getting things going in the earlier part of the period, yet started to pick up where they left off with some decent plays despite Nashville deploying a stifling forecheck.

PK Subban then gift-wrapped a powerplay to the Avs with a roughing penalty halfway in the peri I don’t know what Toninato did to warrant that kind of reaction, but whatever it was Subban was totally over the top. The Avs got some high quality chances from the first unit, but again were frustratingly unable to put it in the net.

After the PP, there was an Avalanche “goal” (it didn’t cross the line until the net came off the moorings) that was overturned anyways due to goalie interference. PK Subban was called for his second penalty, this time for tripping.

Again, at a critical point, the Avs failed to score- and immediately after, the Avs pull Varly with two minutes left. This failed, leading to a Forsberg empty-netter. The Avs pulled the goalie again with one minute left, and MacKinnon took a tripping penalty while preventing a second empty netter. Nothing else happened and the Avs lost 4-2.

Takeaways:

  • I’ll put it bluntly, the Avs should’ve won. They outplayed a great defensive team for most of the game, outshooting them 35 to 28. No blame can really be placed on Varly given the circumstances of playing a back-to-back, but really what should’ve stepped it up was the power play. They had four opportunities, two at very critical points, yet they could’t find the back of the net. In any case, this was a tough one but it was a loss that was frankly expected. What’s really good about the game is really what it proves: the Avalanche can compete with the best in the league. If the Avs can continue this sort of play we no doubt will see them in the playoffs.
  • Sven Andrighetto seemed to have a really solid night. He flashed some nice puck skills and made some fantastic plays throughout the game. I like his play alongside Jost and Compher, hopefully we can finally start to see an actual second line.
  • MacKinnon and Barrie both extended their point streaks at least, 12 games and 10 games respectively
  • Despite this loss, the Avs hold on to the top wildcard spot (tied with Dallas in points but with a game in hand). They still remain only a single point behind Minnesota for that third Central spot. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the Avs went from the single worst team in the salary cap era to third in the toughest division in hockey?

What’s Next:

The Colorado Avalanche take on the Detroit Red Wings at 1:00 PM Mountain Time at the Pepsi Center.