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Tired Avalanche lose to the visiting Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks become the first road team to win at the Pepsi Center this season

Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche finally returned home after a road trip that took them across the country. After beating the Vegas golden Knights on Friday night, a tired Avs team were unable to keep things rolling - dropping a 5-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks in the return to the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche outplayed Anaheim for large chunks of this game, but their usual pep just didn’t seem to be there. Passes weren’t quite as crisp and while they generated a lot of shots on net, the scoring chances against Ryan Miller weren’t as dangerous as we’re used to seeing.

Despite a powerplay goal from Nathan MacKinnon, it was a rough night for Colorado’s top line as they were thoroughly outplayed at even strength resulting in a couple of bad penalties from captain Gabriel Landeskog.

First Period

It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to fall behind in this one. Less than a minute into the game, Rickard Rakell carried the puck into the Avs zone and was able to find a trailing Adam Henrique who scored his 6th goal of the young season.

Midway through the period, it was Carter Rowney who extended the lead to 2-0. The play was started by a great defensive play from Derek Grant. The Ducks winger created an odd-man rush, finishing the play with a tremendous pass to Rowney in front of the net.

The Avalanche went into the intermission down two, despite out-shooting their opponent.

Second Period

After Tyson Jost drew a hooking penalty on Cam Fowler, the Avalanche were finally able to get on the board thank to the second power play unit. It took a little luck but Joonas Donskoi was able to cut the lead in half. Attempting to get the puck to Colin Wilson at the top of the crease, Donskoi banked the puck in off of Ryan Miller from behind the net.

The one goal deficit didn’t last long as Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf scored a power play marker of his own three minutes later to make the game 3-1. For the second straight period, the Avs had out-shot Anaheim 12-9 but were again heading into the intermission down by two.

Third Period

Less than 30 seconds into the third period, Erik Gudbranson went to the penalty box during his first game in a Ducks sweater. This time it was Colorado’s top power play unit that was able to cut the lead back to one. Nathan MacKinnon jumped on a loose puck at the side of the net to bury his sixth of the season.

It was MacKinnon who scored, but the play was created by a tremendous rush by Cale Makar - who had been flying all night.

Unfortunately, that was as close at the Avalanche would get in this one. Five minutes after the MacKinnon marker, Max Comtois found the loose puck in a scrum around the net to push the Anaheim lead back to two. The play started with a bad giveaway by Nikita Zadorov at the Ducks’ blueline and finished with Big Z cross checking Nick Ritchie on top of Pavel Francouz - preventing the goaltender from making a save on Comtois. It was a bad sequence for the Avs defender and put the team down 4-2.

Late in the game, Jakob Silfverberg won a battle with MacKinnon at center ice and was able to put the puck into the empty net, solidifying the 5-2 victory.

All in all, it was a disappointing result for an Avalanche team that will now get a little rest before taking on the Florida Panthers Wednesday night.

With Mikko Rantanen out of the lineup, MacKinnon and Landeskog were struggling all night - to the point that Coach Bednar tried to spark the line by moving Val Nichuskin up to their wing. The Avalanche outshot the Ducks 37-27 on the back of a very strong performance by the second line - something that has become common practice early this season.

It was a tough loss, but the Avs remain on top of the Western Conference standings with an 8-2-1 record. Oh, and that Cale Makar guy, he’s pretty darn good. Remember, you can’t spell Calder without Cale.