The Colorado Avalanche are no fans of overtime. A 1-12 record in the extra frame will make a team try to avoid OT at all costs.
On Wednesday night, however, the Avalanche held their ground in the overtime period, going to a shootout — where Carl Soderberg sent home the game winning goal in the sixth round to give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Colorado and Vancouver met in the first game following the All-Star break just a month prior to their late February meet-up, and at that time they were two teams heading in opposite directions. The Avs were in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, Vancouver was playing consistent hockey, and the game would determine who took a two-point lead on the other to earn a playoff position. Colorado proceeded to lay a huge dud of a game, and their struggles would continue.
Almost a month later, though, and the two teams are again heading in different directions. Colorado seems to have turned things around, while Vancouver has been the team in free-fall. The Canucks entered their game against Colorado having only won four games since the All-Star break, two of them thanks to the shoot out. And sure enough, both teams played to their current standards, with the higher-ranked team pulling out ahead.
Eleven seconds in, Mikko Rantanen got his stick to the face of Bo Horvat putting Colorado immediately down a man. Just as the penalty expired, Rantanen took a pass from Matt Calvert as he exited the box — and although the play ended in a breakaway that he would miss wide, it set the tone for the next 18 minutes.
The remainder of the first period saw high pressure play from both sides. The swarming Avalanche got going early, and their first breakthrough would be a one-timer by Nathan MacKinnon on a nice cross-ice pass from Sven Andrighetto:
It wouldn’t take Vancouver long to get themselves on the board, though, as Antoine Roussel slapped a shot that didn’t get two inches off the ice — but found it’s way through traffic and past Semyon Varlamov.
In the blink of an eye, Colorado was on the verge of giving up a short-handed breakaway. Instead, though, they ended up taking a 2-1 lead on a difficult angle slap shot by Rantanen. The puck had gotten away from Tyson Barrie, who allowed it to fall right to Markus Granlund — who had an open teammate ready for a breakaway pass. Granlund whiffed on the pass, though, and Gabriel Landeskog picked it up and set up Rantanen for a beautiful shot from the right side to give the Avs back the lead.
A penalty-filled first period made it difficult for either team to get much sustained momentum going, yet somehow Colorado found a way to get 17 shots on goal.
The majority of the first half of the second period saw both teams go back and forth with not much fanfare. Colorado continued to get shots on net but, with the exception of a few, not many posed a challenge for Markstrom. With a lot of the first period being played on a power play both teams might have used the second to get used to how the other was playing five on five.
The pace entered another gear in the last five minutes as both teams seemed to be getting chances with each possession. However, nothing could get through Varlamov or Markstrom as both goalies were solid and were on top of their game all night.
While the second period was entertaining — and saw some good scoring chances and some more highlight reel saves by both goalies — neither team changed the score heading to the third.
The third would start with both teams showing their physical sides finishing checks at every opportunity with a little extra on them as they lined up their hit. Oddly enough, the only penalty that came out of the physical play was a tripping call on Erik Johnson which the Avs would kill.
Most of the first half of the third period resembled the play in the second. A lot of up and down with some chances sprinkled in. Colorado had a 2-1 opportunity that went to the wayside and a couple open looks for some slap shots, but again Markstrom was standing tall in goal for the Canucks.
One of the more exciting plays happened when Markstrom came way out past the top of the circle to beat Landeskog to the puck and prevent the captain from getting a chance at a breakaway. Landeskog collided with Markstom who went down, quickly got back up and started back towards his goal as the puck slid out to center ice near Tyson Jost who attempted a long range shot but was snagged out of midair by by the Vancouver defense.
You got the feeling sometime during the second this game would come down to the goalie being pulled, but Vancouver drew up a nice set play off the faceoff and Josh Levio blasted a one timer past Varlamov to tie the game at two.
Colorado had a golden opportunity to take the lead with only two minutes left when Markstrom went behind the net to stop the puck and was met by Matt Calvert who stole the puck away from the Vancouver goalie, fed it in front to Colin Wilson who had a wide open net but his backhand went off the post and kicked to the side.
The Avs would find themselves in yet another overtime.
We don’t need to dwell on the issues surrounding the Avalanche in the extra period. We all know its been bad all year. With just under three minutes left in OT Tanner Pearson charged Varlamov and put a shot on net which was initially stopped by Varlamov but not secured and Pearson worked on the rebound which saw the puck end up in the net. However, the play was stopped by the refs and the goal was not allowed. In looking at replayes is could be argued the puck was even kicked in. Whatever the reason, the refs upheld the call.
We saw some great chances by both teams, but like most of the game these guys were standing on their heads and a shootout was needed to determine the extra point
You can love shoot outs or you can hate them, but this one in particular was entertaining. Mikko Rantanen needed a third round goal to keep the Avs alive and Carl Soderberg woulds put home the winner in the sixth round to seal the Avalanche overtime win 3-2.
This was a game that had it moments in the beginning, a long stretch of defense in the middle and enough action to satisfy a summer blockbuster at the end. The goalies stole the show in this one and both men were deserving of the victory.
Nathan MacKinnon, like usual, was everywhere tonight and it’s a sight to see him turn it on and impose his will when he wants too.
What else can we say about Carl Soderberg? His great season continues and while he might not have had any points in the three periods of play, his shootout goal won it in the end.
The Avs got 45 shots on goal and they are seeing the rewards of getting the puck on net in this recent stretch of success. The Avalanche find themselves in the wild card spot with the win and this battle for those last two spots will no doubt go down to the final games of the season.