The Colorado Avalanche won their second game in a row with a 4-2 victory Saturday night. Riddled with injuries to a number of key players, the team came together to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in what might have been Cale Makar’s best game in the NHL.
This Makar kid is good...really good.
The win wasn’t all sunshine and roses as the team suffered another injury when Pierre-Eduard Bellemare was knocked out of the game by an incredibly dangerous hit from Nick Foligno. It was a scary scene as Bellemare was clearly unconscious on the ice after taking an elbow to the jaw. It was a very dirty hit so hopefully the league shows they’re serious about eliminating head shots and suspends Nick Foligno for a while.
It didn’t take long for the Blue Jackets to take the lead. After a penalty in the first five minutes, Emil Bemstrom’s buried a shot after finding the rebound on a Seth Jones point shotshot.
After some sustained pressure, the Avalanche were able to tie it up with a powerplay goal of their own. It was the second unit who was able to break through as Samuel Girard put a point shot past Joonas Korpisalo thanks to a tremendous screen in front my Val Nichushkin.
Unfortunately, the tie didn’t last into the intermission as Zach Werenski was able to squeeze a shot past Pavel Francouz to give Columbus a 2-1 lead with a minute left in the first.
The Avalanche came out for the second period a lot better than the first. They put a lot of pressure on Columbus but were unable to solve Korpisalo for the first ten minutes.
And so began the Cale Makar Show.
Makar scored his third of the season as he crept in from the point and ripped a laser just under the cross bar to tie the game at two.
A little more than five minutes later he did it again. This time, he joined the rush to create a 2-on-1 and was able to tip home a perfect pass from Tyson Jost. The goal was Makar’s 17th point in 17 games. That makes him a point per game player...as a defenseman...a rookie defenseman.
Late in the second is when the dangerous hit from Foligno happened. He nailed Bellemare with a high elbow under the chin. He was given a five minute major and game misconduct for his efforts. Bellemare was clearly out as he fell and as a result he hit his head pretty hard on the ice. It was a scary scene.
In his post-game interview, Foligno comes across as very apologetic and he did check in with the Avs dressing room to make sure Bellemare was doing okay. Regardless of how bad he feels, it was still a dumb hit. There was no question that the hit was inappropriate — the penalty was well deserved and so will a suspension.
Once the game resumed, the Avalanche were unable to capitalize on the extended powerplay.
With the Bellemare injury likely in their minds, the team came out a lot more disjointed for the third. Things began to settle down and the Avs were able to carry the play through the middle of then period until Nazem Kadri was able to extend the lead and five the team some breathing room.
With two minutes remaining, Kadri was able to cause a turnover at the Columbus blue line before breaking in and smashing a slap shot past Korpisalo.
It was a great defensive play followed by a lucky shot from Kadri as Seth Jones made a bad decision to reach his stick in front of the shot. Jones deflected what would have been an otherwise normal shot up and over Korpisalo’s shoulder. The goalie was rightfully angry at his defender after the play and took his frustration out on the goal posts.
The only thing left worth mentioning was Pavel Francouz’s attempt to shoot the puck on an empty net. There’s nothing better than a goalie goal and you absolutely love to see the confidence shown by the rookie netminder to make the attempt.
The 4-2 final give the Avalanche their second win in a row and pulled them back into second place in the Central Division. The team will now have a couple days off before starting a Western Canadian road trip in Winnipeg on Tuesday.