Entering this contest the Colorado Avalanche were battered and bruised both literally and figuratively. In search of their first win in six tries with a visit from the Nashville Predators was going to be a tough task before news breaking prior to morning skate that their starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer would be the next key player to go down with a lower body injury for at least the next couple of games.
Finally the Avalanche fueled their frustration into production and absolutely unloaded on the Predators for a 9-4 victory which snapped their losing streak and ended their goal drought in one fell swoop.
Clearly sick and tired of slow starts Cale Makar took matters into his own hands and opened the scoring got the home team just 49 seconds into the game on a quick seeing-eye wrist shot. This what exactly a fragile team needed and the Avalanche began to play with much more pace and intensity than they had in weeks.
Nashville answered back at 12:08 when Ryan Ellis deposited his own long range shot. A turning point came early in the game when the Avalanche received a lengthy 5-on-3 power play. Nathan MacKinnon finally hit paydirt with just over three minutes to go in the period and the Avalanche took back momentum with a 18-6 shot advantage after one.
The second period began with a myriad of unfortunate events for the Avalanche. After failing to convert on yet another power play the Avalanche gave up a goal just 1:25 into the frame to Filip Forsberg and then another on the power play to Matt Duchene at 4:55. Adding insult to injury Nikita Zadorov took a puck in the face and left the game just prior to the third Predators goal.
It looked like the Avalanche were on the precipice of falling into the familiar hole of despair which had plagued them over five game losing streak but at 5:26 with some hard work in front of the net Joonas Donskoi kick-started an explosion of offense. That eruption amounted to four unanswered goals in 2:21 of time off the clock and six total in eight minutes, which was good for an Avalanche record.
Adding to the scoring were Ryan Graves (5:46), Andre Burakovsky (6:57), Matt Nieto (7:47), Matt Calvert (10:01), and Donskoi again (13:26). The Avalanche ended the second period with a 8-3 score and again with a 18-6 shot advantage leaving the Predators completely stunned.
The third period was an exercise in garbage time just waiting for the clock to run out. Nashville got a fourth goal from Craig Smith at 12:41. Just for fun the Avalanche added a ninth and final goal on the power play from Donskoi which gave him his first career NHL hat trick with two minutes to go.
This win was very satisfying but did not come without a price. Head coach Jared Bednar did not have much of an update on Zadorov who did not return to the game after the aforementioned puck in the face. MacKinnon was held out of the third period as what was called a precaution after he suffered an upper body injury as well. Late in the third period Makar blocked a shot which hobbled him and Samuel Girard drew the last penalty on a slash from Duchene which stung him as well. Both defenseman each returned to take a couple shifts to finish the game but are situations worth monitoring moving forward.
Nathan MacKinnon was held out for precautionary reasons but Nikita Zadorov’s status is still unknown, per Jared Bednar. #Avs— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) November 8, 2019
Speaking of Makar, with a three point effort this evening he now stands at 15 points on the season which is good for the lead in rookie scoring. He’s also beginning to climb up the charts in defenseman scoring and is sixth just one point behind Morgan Rielly and Ryan Ellis. The impact he’s had thus far in his young career is incredible and will only continue to grow.
Moving forward the Avalanche will have to find a way to build off this win to grab more points in this what is becoming an injury crisis. They will need to adopt the mentality that they can win a close 2-1 type game and have everyone contribute to the scoring regularly when things are tight. But for tonight the dominant Avalanche returned.
One last game at home hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, November 9th at 7pm MT.