In search of revenge for a defeat earlier this month, the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Anaheim Ducks in their final meeting of the season. Desperate to keep pace in the race for the last wild card spot in the Western Conference, the Avalanche were approaching a must-win situation. In a game that mirrored their season, the Avalanche let this game slip into a 5-3 defeat.
A fast start is just what the Avalanche needed as they pumped the Ducks full of 16 shots and two goals in the opening frame. The first goal at 6:54 was started by Samuel Girard with a fantastic stretch pass which found J.T. Compher at the blueline and then he saucered the puck right to Nathan MacKinnon for a highlight reel goal.
The party was just getting started as Mikko Rantanen capped off the period with his own display of skill at 18:10 as he received a stretch pass of his own from Tyson Barrie on the power play and then popped the puck top shelf over Anaheim goaltender John Gibson.
If the Avalanche had complete control in the first period then the opposite happened in the second period. Corey Perry scored at 6:08 off of a faceoff and some sloppy defensive coverage to put the Ducks on the board. Just over a minute later Ryan Getzlaf would equal the score as the result of more terrible coverage in the defensive zone. At 13:20 the Avalanche completed the collapse when Daniel Sprong was the beneficiary of lackadaisical at best effort from the Avalanche.
It appeared the good Avalanche showed up in the third period. Even a couple fruitless power plays seemed to bring the home team some momentum. When Sven Andrighetto snuck behind the defense and took a slick pass from Ian Cole to convert at 8:42 it seemed like the Avalanche had done enough to at least sneak out of the game with a point and a good chance for two.
Then, disaster struck yet again.
Mikko Rantanen took a high sticking penalty with just over two minutes to go and ultimately spelled doom. Corey Perry scored yet another tally at 19:03 and gave the Ducks the lead. An empty net goal a short while after sealed the loss and possibly the season for the Avalanche.
- This game was a near perfect mirror of the Avalanche season with a strong start, a horrific collapse and a come back that was too little too late. The penalty on Rantanen and penalty kill will get the blame in this one but the second period is where this game was lost. A complete no-show defensively is what sank them in this game and likely the season.
- With 11 games remaining there are still many scenarios where the Avalanche still have life left in the season but this game felt like a dagger of sorts. They nearly have to win out or get help at this point and with sagging momentum it will not be easy to turn around.
- It is tough to look for many positives in as disappointing of a result as this one but an encouraging takeaway is that eight different players hit the score sheet including sophomores Girard and Tyson Jost, who each put in a good effort this evening. It was also nice to see Sven Andrighetto get on the board for just his fifth goal of the season. The team totaled 44 shots and need to continue that offensive momentum in the final couple weeks of the season.
The four game homestand concludes on Sunday in another matinee at 1:00 pm MT against the New Jersey Devils.