In search of a spark to save their season, the Colorado Avalanche headed out for their final east coast road trip to meet the Washington Capitals. Each team had only seen two victories in their last 10 games so something had to give for one of these teams to grab the valuable two points. With Tim Peel scheduled to referee this game, it was expected that chaos would ensue, and just that did happen in an eventual 4-3 loss in overtime for the Avalanche.
A fairly even first period with shots in favor of Washington 12-9 saw them with the advantage on the scoreboard as well. Andre Burakovsky took advantage of another defensive lapse at 6:31 when he snuck in front of Matt Calvert to redirect a shot to gain the lead.
Shortly thereafter, an Alexander Ovechkin shot leaked through Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov but the referees conferred and decided the whistle had blown before the puck crossed the goal line. Bullet dodged.
The Avalanche would answer back at the start of the second period just 35 seconds into the frame as Nathan MacKinnon stuffed home the puck on Capitals goaltender Phoenix Copley. This score wasn’t without controversy either as Washington challenged for offside but was denied and the tally stood.
Old habits die hard as the Avalanche found themselves in penalty trouble for the rest of the second period and gave up a power play goal at 8:38 to Evgeny Kuznetsov on another shot that dribbled behind Varlamov and this time the score would count to put Washington up 2-1.
If the first two periods were out of the ordinary, then they just set up for the events of the third period. Varlamov deflected a Matt Niskanen shot going wide into his own net just 34 seconds into the period and it seemed like the stupid mistakes had caught up to the Avalanche once again down 3-1.
On a beast of a shift from Gabe Landeskog who was dedicated and physical all evening, it was Mikko Rantanen who converted and put the Avalanche back within one at 5:10.
For a several shifts thereafter the Avalanche were gaining momentum, but Ian Cole would set his team back with a questionable hit at best on Kuznetsov. On the play, he would earn a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for fighting Tom Wilson as a result of the hit.
The Avalanche weathered the major penalty kill and then got a laugher of a goal of their own with just over two minutes left in the contest from Colin Wilson on a sharp angle shot that deflected off of Copley. Thus the game had to be settled into overtime.
The two teams would trade chances over four minutes in the extra frame when Kuznetsov got a breakaway and buried the puck on Varlamov. Another overtime defeat but at least this one wasn’t completely futile.
- Another loss for the Avalanche but there were some positives to take from this game. Goaltending and defensive play were improved plus getting goal scoring contributions from MacKinnon, Rantanen and secondary scoring from Wilson. It is an effort to build on but getting just one point out of a game isn’t enough at this juncture.
- Again penalties were a story of the game and despite only giving up one power play goal, spending time killing five minor penalties thwarted any momentum the team could generate. The lack of accountability for those who have a discipline problem is also an underlying issue the Avalanche have and was made no clearer than when Ian Cole took a careless major penalty which easily could have put the game out of reach.
- AJ Greer made his return to the lineup for his sixth game of the season on his fourth recall. He played a responsible and physical game in his nine shifts for four minutes of ice time with a +8/-0 performance for 100% Corsi For, plus a shot on goal, and a hit. It was a performance to build off of but will the Avalanche allow Greer to do just that with consistent usage and plan to build into a NHL role or was inserting him in the lineup just a precursor to trading him by the deadline?
The road trip continues as the Avalanche head to New York to take on the Islanders for a 11am MT start on Saturday. It will be the first of back-to-back matinee games this weekend to conclude the road trip.