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Colorado Avalanche need Nathan MacKinnon overtime heroics to defeat Detroit Red Wings

It was a slow start, but a strong finish for the first-line led Avalanche.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche
Mar 5, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) after their overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings at the Pepsi Center.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche needed to win this game against the bottom-feeding Detroit Red Wings, and somehow by the end of it, win it they did. The Avalanche never held a lead throughout this contest, despite owning the Red Wings in shots for most of the night, but came away with the 4-3 overtime win at the hands of another big night from the top line.

Mikko Rantanen either scored or assisted on all three Avalanche goals in the third period and overtime for a one-goal, two-assist night. Nathan MacKinnon was right behind with a two-point night himself (1g, 1a) including the game-winning goal in overtime. Tyson Barrie also notched a goal and assist in the clutch moments. Oh, and once again the Carl Soderberg line scored a goal.

It ended up being a tough night for goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who stopped only 20 of 23 shots, but he got the win and kept his team within one goal at all times in this game. I guess this is one of those games where you don’t ask how.

First Period

0-1

The beginning of the game was super boring. First of all, the Wings were doing a good job of limiting chances for both sides. Derick Brassard got called for a small hook, but had to sit in the box for two minutes. Seconds after that penalty expired and Brassard was allowed back on the ice, Niklas Kronwall took a shot from the point that deflected off Sheldon Dries and through Semyon Varlamov’s legs for the first goal.

Late in the period, Nathan MacKinnon and Alexander Kerfoot combined for a possible chance chance when Kerfoot burst down the middle with the puck, but Athanasiou held him back before he could get the shot off. Athanasiou took a holding penalty that started in the first, but carried over into the second.

After One

It wasn’t a good period for the Avalanche, who let Detroit dictate the pace of play the entire time. The Wings clogged up the neutral zone and were able to take advantage of one of their few chances in the period to get ahead by one. As for the Avs, speed was working well for them, but they just needed more to fully break the Wings defense. For most of the period I was saying in my head “c’mon, guys. It’s Jonathan Bernier in net. Shoot the puck!”

For what it’s worth, Nikita Zadorov made his presence felt in the period, making some good plays in all three zones. Size used to move players off the puck in an efficient way is a good style to play, especially against slower teams.

At 5v5, the Avs had a good start to the period, but Detroit slowly clawed their way back, eventually getting the shot attempts margin on their side (12-14), as well as shots (6-8), and scoring chances (3-5).

Second Period

1-1

The Avalanche power play had their chances, but just like the Wings’ goal, this one came right after the penalty was expired. Colin Wilson tried to set up Carl Soderberg in the slot for a shot, but he was tied up with two Red Wings. The puck snuck through to Compher, who smashed the puck off the post.

After Two

The Avs were much better in the second than the first. The power play at the start of the period really helped give the team confidence and allowed them to stay on the gas. The Wings looked overwhelmed and the team was able to get several big chances, chief among them coming from MacKinnon who was alone in front of Bernier, but got hooked by Danny Dekeyser.

As the period waned, the Red Wings came back a little bit, especially after Patrik Nemeth took a slashing penalty, but the Avalanche finished strong with a flurry of chances at the end. After two, the Avalanche were ahead in 5v5 shot attempts (17-10), shots (12-5), and scoring chances (9-5). The shots in all situations were 12-1 at one point.

Third Period

1-2

The Avalanche started the third period well — they were close to scoring a few times — but that also meant that the team wasn’t paying attention to themselves defensively. That cost them here. The Red Wings took advantage of a sloppy and slow line change by the Avs and DeKeyser was able to be wide open for an easy goal against Varlamov. Can someone explain why Tyson Jost had to cover a 2-on-1 down low in the defensemans spot? How that came about still baffles me.

Later in the period, Zadorov skated hard down the wing, but lost his balance and fell hard into the end boards. Shoulder first. He was slow to get up and had to go to the dressing room to have his arm looked at. Thankfully, he would return a few minutes later.

2-2

Midway through the period, the Avalanche would make up for their mistake on the power play. Mikko Rantanen scored his 29th off a rebound from a big Tyson Barrie shot from the point. The range Rantanen displayed with his stick to get the puck around the maze of bodies in front for a clean shot at the net, and the speed he did it at too, was unreal.

2-3

With four minutes left in regulation, the Avalanche took a too many men on the ice penalty. And with a little more than two minutes left, Filip Zadina scored his first career NHL off a wicked one-timer from the half wall.

3-3

Once again, Barrie let loose a bomb from the point and good things happened. Specifically, his shot went straight through the crowd and into the back of the net with a little more than 90 seconds left in regulation.

Credit for this goal also goes to the assist-makers: Rantanen and MacKinnon. They were leaned on heavily in the final minutes of the game and their work to get the Avs scoring chances late in the game was huge. Even after this goal, they each had a massive chance from low in the offensive zone on the left side. Rantanen pang his shot off the post, while MacKinnon got robbed by Bernier with the pad in the dying seconds.

After Three

It was a sloppy period from the Avalanche, who were lucky that their talent allowed them to get away with getting out-shot in the final frame despite never carrying the lead once. At 5v5, shot attempts were 11-14 in Detroit’s favor, shots were 6-4 leaning towards Colorado, but the scoring chances favored the Red Wings 3-5.

Overtime

4-3

Who else would it have been other than Nathan MacKinnon. In overtime, the young centerman picked up a pass from Mikko Rantanen following a quick zone entry by him before turning on Bernier from distance and ripping a perfect shot to the top corner, winning the game!


Next on the list is the good old Dallas Stars on Thursday night. The Stars are three points up the road with a game in hand. The Minnesota Wild will likely lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning (look, I’m just playing the odds here) on the same night, so with a win, the Avalanche could come within a tie of the second Wild Card spot, with the first Wild Card position only one point away. The standings are refusing to loosen up as the number of games played ticks towards 82, so I guess this is all going to go down to the wire. See you next time!