Amid a six-game losing streak — the team’s longest skid of the season — the Colorado Avalanche were in desperate need of a victory on Friday night to subdue the mile-high panic, at least for a day.
Luckily, that came in spades. Facing off against the New York Rangers to kick off the weekend, the Avalanche dominated in all facets en route to a 6-1 win. Colorado finished the game with a 47 to 25 advantage in shots on goal, the team’s best outing in that category in a regulation win since November 29, 2014, and scored four or more for their second straight outing to go with some much-improved goaltending.
While it would be satisfying to say the Avalanche embarrassed the Rangers in this game, though, the Rangers hurt themselves more than anything. New York took nine minor penalties and one major penalty — a dirty check into the boards from Cody McLeod on Sam Girard — for a total of 31 penalty minutes in a flightless game.
The Avalanche top line all had more time on ice on the power play than at even strength.
Mikko Rantanen had a pair of tallies and an assist to extend his Western Conference-leading points total to 65. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Alex Kerfoot all scored a goal, while rookie defenseman Ryan Graves found the back of the net late in the third period for his first-career NHL goal.
Tyson Barrie had three assists, pushing him past Avalanche legend John-Michael Liles as the most prolific scorer among all defensemen in franchise history. Somehow in this game, there was so much nonsense that a team record is reduced to a footnote, but congratulations to Barrie, who’s had an up-and-down season.
The Avalanche badly needed a win like this to decelerate their ongoing freefall through the Central Division standings.
Far too often of late, it seems like the Avalanche have struggled in the beginning of games. But right off the bat in this one, McLeod gave Colorado immediate momentum.
Uh... yes, MSG. Yes. The Department of Player Safety should be giving the Rangers’ enforcer a call in the morning.
MacKinnon made New York pay with this goal to give Colorado a 1-0 lead.
With his assist there, Barrie set the Avalanche defenseman points record. Realistically, he could put some sizable separation between himself and the field, being only 27 years old and certainly part of Colorado’s future plans.
It was kind of New York to give Colorado’s power play so many opportunities early in this game. The Rangers had 19 minutes worth of penalty time in the first 29 minutes of the game.
With so many repetitions, the Avalanche worked out some of their recent kinks. Barrie looked great at the point, while Landeskog seemed to retrieve every single puck behind the goal line to keep the play going.
The score really could have been worse if not for several gorgeous stops in net from New York’s Alexandar Georgiev. The Avalanche could have realistically scored a dozen times if the goaltending was poor.
In Colorado’s goal, it was a show-me game from Philipp Grubauer, who has been given a lot of opportunity to win the starting job lately with mixed results. On Friday night, he wasn’t tested much — but made stops when he had to, including a penalty shot save on Jimmy Vesey. His only goal against came on a Ryan Strome breakaway.
Oh, and here's Graves' first NHL goal:
New York Rangers
Newly hired Dan Quinn has produced more success behind the bench from the Rangers than was expected prior to the season — but in this game, his team was lacklustre and undisciplined.
At the end of the day, the Rangers are still a bad, rebuilding team. Kevin Shattenkirk has mysteriously dropped off a cliff since arriving with the team — and the rest of the defense seems to have fallen off with him, producing just 18 collective goals among eight players so far this season.
From here, Colorado will go back on the road. The Avalanche don’t play again until Tuesday, but then it’ll be games in Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa in the span of nine days.
With any luck, Mikko Rantanen will be yet another Finnish hockey player making Canadian fans miserable.