The first thing on the minds of Avalanche fans when they received the news that Mikko Rantanen would be out week-to-week with his lower body injury was most likely the hope that he would return sooner rather than later. The second thing they likely thought of was now is the time for all those off season acquisitions to step up, and they did in grand fashion as the Colorado Avalanche went into Vegas for the last game of their six-game road trip and skated circles around the Vegas Golden Knights with a 6-1 victory.
Cale Makar netted his first regular season goal, Nazem Kadri scored two goals of his own and ex Golden Knights Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had himself a night against his old team with a three point performance on a goal and two assists.
The Avs leaned on a dominant four goal second period as Colorado got back on the winning track and completed their six game road trip with an impressive 4-1-1 record.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to set the tone, and it was a familiar face in Vegas that got the scoring going. Former Golden Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare watched an appreciation video dedicated to him on the jumbotron then got to work as his third goal of the year came a mere 28 seconds into the contest. Bellemare picked off a telegraphed pass right inside the blue line, weaved past a couple Knights defenders and sent home a laser wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
From that point on for the rest of the period the action rarely stopped. Both teams were up and down the ice and the action kept going despite several shots on goal that the goalies seemed unable to corral. Some incredible goal tending on both ends kept the score where it was and the only thing that stopped the action was penalties.
The Golden Knights were able to crack the Philipp Grubauer code as the puck seemed to go from one end of the ice to the other and just about every player on the ice took a whack at. In the end the puck ended up on Reilly Smith’s stick who fed it cross ice to William Karlsson who had an open look at Grubauer and was able to wrist it past the Avs goaltender.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to counter. Nazem Kadri balanced out Bellemare’s first minute goal with a last minute goal of his own and 43 seconds after the Knights tied it at 1-1 the Avalanche took the lead back.
This was a Colorado Avalanche clinic. The Avalanche did a great job controlling the puck for large chunks early in the second. The only way the Knights were able to generate any sort of offensive attack was on an Avalanche penalty, of which they had not a single shot on goal.
In the first period Makar dinged the crossbar and just missed his first goal of the season. In the second he didn’t miss the opportunity. A Compher backwards pass that was intended for Landeskog jumped over the captains stick but a trailing Makar was Johnny on the spot and fired home a wrist shot Fleury had no chance at.
It wasn’t much longer when the Avs found themselves on a power play and Kadri blew the game open with his second goal of the game which would signal the end of Marc-Andre Fleury night.
New goalie, same result for the Avs. They were relentless with their pressure and Bellmare got himself another point against his former team as he fed Matt Calvert on a 2 on 1 who went high glove side past Garret Sparks.
The period concluded with the Avs holding a 34-14 edge in the shot on goal department and if you were able to watch the game it seemed like that margin was a lot bigger. The Knights seemed lost and the Avs played like a well rested team and it showed for the full 20 minutes of the second.
The final period was more or less a formality as the Avalanche did nothing to pressure the Knights while at the same time giving Vegas nothing on the defensive end. Colorado was happy with their four goal lead and were content to let the period tick away as quickly as possible.
If the Avs were missing anything it was a short handed goal, so Matt Calvert gave them one
The second period was probably the most dominant period the Avs have had all season. At times it looked like they were on a power play when in fact the teams were at even strength. They controlled the puck for extended periods and just seemed to keep their rotations going time after time. It was as one sided a period as you will find this year.
Colorado was a skipping puck away against Pittsburgh from finishing their six game road trip at 5-1 but you can’t be upset at all with a 4-1-1 road record.
After one period it looked like we were on track for a goalie clinic between Grubauer and Fleury and if the Avalanche taking control like they did which caused the Knights to pull Fleury doesn’t strike fear in the rest of the NHL you aren’t paying attention. The Avs can turn on the pressure and have four lines that can keep it on.
Makar’s goal now gives the Avalanche 15 players with at least one goal. Depth? We’ve got depth.
Colorado makes the short trip back home and will play their first home game in two weeks tomorrow night against a struggling Anaheim Ducks team.