The Colorado Avalanche have gotten their season off to a hot start winning their first four games. While many have been impressed with Colorado in the early going, many in the hockey world have been waiting for the current road trip. The Avs play six games on the road against tough opponents. After game one, the Avalanche have put the rest of the NHL on notice; they are up for the task.
The Avs put up a statement win against the Washington Capitals and did so in lightning quick fashion. They put up four goals in the first period, en route to a 6-3 win. The Capitals did their best to get back into the game — and there were some ‘hold your breath’ moments at the end — but the early lead Colorado built proved to be too much of a mountain to climb for the Caps.
Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen both had three-point nights while six different Avs scored (Kadri, Rantanen, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov, Matt Nieto, and Nathan MacKinnon). Philipp Grubauer stopped 29 of 32 for his fourth win of the season.
Colorado seemed ready from the opening puck drop and wasted little time to get on the board. Erik Johnson scored his first goal of the season after taking a pass from Nazem Kadri as he entered the zone, firing a wrist shot right past Braden Holtby. Three minutes and 42 seconds in and Colorado found themselves up 1-0.
Johnson wasn’t the only Avalanche player to get their first of the year. Nikita Zadorov netted his first goal with some nifty footwork and impressive puck control allowing him to whip a wrist shot in front of a leaping Nathan MacKinnon to give the Avs a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes later Nazem Kadri got his second primary point of the night. Joonas Donskoi delivered a beautiful cross-ice pass to a flying Kadri who found the back of the net. Less that eight minutes into the contest and the Avalanche found themselves with a 3-0 lead.
Three goals on three shots. Washington had no choice but to pull Holtby at this point.
Even with a new goaltender the scoring didn’t stop. Mikko Rantanen threw his hat into the scoring parade as he put home a power play goal, his fourth of the year.
It was an exhilarating period for the Avalanche. Everything went their way and it seemed like everything they threw towards the net had the chance to go in. As expected when a period doesn’t go your way, the Capitals turned to throwing the gloves as Tyler Lewington picked Valeri Nichushkin as his target to fight in an attempt to get their team and the crowd involved and something to cheer at. The subsequent period was better for the Capitals, but the damage was already done.
Washington needed play play like a desperate team to get back in the matchup and they did. The Caps had the right mix of getting under the Avs skin and getting back to their hard-nosed style of play to get two goals in the second.
The first came with a little bit of luck when Colorado coughed up the puck deep in their own zone on a careless pass that found its way right on the stick of Lars Eller who turned, took two strides and fired a shot past Philipp Grubauer who had no time to react.
The second came on a nice power play goal by T.J. Oshie who received a pass right in front of Grubs who was attempting to swat it away. Grubs momentum took him one way while Oshie was going the other and Oshie had a relatively easy shot to get the Caps to within 4-2.
Washington was their own worst enemy in the third and a game that at one point looked out of hand then became a nail biter for a time.
Early in the period Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov went behind the net to collect the puck and clear, but a lazy pass was knocked down by Tyson Jost who found Matt Nieto dashing towards the net for his first goal of the season giving Colorado breathing room and a 5-2 score.
From there things got interesting. There was plenty of back and forth for most of the period and it wasn’t until Alex Ovechkin slapped home a power play goal with 2:13 left to make it 5-3 while the goalie was pulled, it seemed like the final two minutes would take forever to tick off. 15 seconds later when the Capitals scored again on a John Carlson goal it was nail biting time for the Avs. However, once again the Avalanche video team came to the rescue and Colorado challenged that the Caps were offside. They were plenty offsides and the goal was reversed
Tack on an empty net goal by Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche are off to a good start to their road trip with a convincing 6-3 win.
First off let’s give credit to this video team. I don’t need to tell you how catastrophic it would have been for Colorado to lose a challenge after two quick goals which would have put the Caps on the power play with the goalie pulled down by one. Even though it was clear as day the Caps were off-sides, it was still heart pumping.
Cale Makar continues to excel. He is a joy to watch. Nathan MacKinnon wows you with his speed and skill while Makar skates like a smooth operator. Another assist for the Avs young star today gives him five assists in as many games.
Three Avalanche players got their first goal of the season tonight (Johnson, Zadorov, and Nieto) while 11 different players tallied at least a point. Further proof the Avs are a more well rounded team than a year ago.
AND JUST TO TWIST THE KNIFE (IN ALL CAPS)…