In a game that kept us east coast Colorado Avalanche fans up long past 1 A.M. the Avalanche rewarded our patience by grinding out a 3-2 overtime win to even up their playoff series with the Calgary Flames. Stealing an away game can make a big difference in the playoffs, and the Avs became the first visiting team to steal one past regulation so far these playoffs.
Not only do the Avalanche head back having taken over home ice advantage but they are likely to add the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner to their lineup.
EARNED IT.#GoAvsGo #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/VmtugfPKcs— x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 14, 2019
The Avalanche started the game well and showed that they weren’t afraid to get physical with the big, hard hitting Flames. Early in the first, Derrick Brassard and goalie Mike Smith were handed matching roughing minors when they exchanged a few shoves after a play where Brassard ended in the back of the net.
Brassard would be the only thing in the back of the net this period, as Smith would put on his second straight strong showing to open the game. The Avs did very well to dictate play in the first, but Smith’s strong play as well as a foolish penalty by Brassard disrupted their flow a bit. The tail end of Brassard’s penalty did set up the Avs best chance of the period, as Gabriel Landeskog intercepted a drop pass on the Calgary breakout and nearly got his breakaway chance through the five hole of Smith. Philip Grubauer had his own impressive showing in net, and the Avalanche defense, led by a strong showing from Nikita Zadorov (disregarding a couple mistakes) held strong to keep this game scoreless on both ends through one.
The Avalanche started the second on a powerplay, but sticking with the theme of this series, could not convert. Shortly after their own powerplay ended, they found themselves down a man. Calgary was desperate to turn the tides in this game and they let it lead to sloppy turnovers. Matt Calvert and Carl Soderberg had two straight chances shorthanded before Matt Nieto found one of his own.
Nieto buried a shorthanded breakaway to put the Avalanche up 1-0 and finally get one past Mike Smith.
The Avalanche were soon on the powerplay again, with the second unit staying on ice for the duration of the penalty. Calgary couldn’t clear the puck at all as the combination of Brassard, Soderberg, Tyson Jost, Alexander Kerfoot and Samuel Girard ripped one timer after one timer into Mike Smith and the Flames penalty killers. For a powerplay that finally looked so positive, it was a shame to walk away with nothing to show for it besides another penalty on Brassard.
Unfortunately, the Flames were much more cohesive with the man advantage and were rewarded with a beauty of a goal. I won’t let Avs fandom blind me; Sam Bennett played this perfectly. A spinning, no look backhand pass through the blue paint to Rasmus Andersson left Grubauer with no chance, and just like that the game was even.
Nathan MacKinnon would mention after the game that it felt like the Avs could have been up by a “hefty” amount after this period and he wasn’t wrong. It was a shame to walk into the third period tied after such a strong showing.
The Avalanche dominated this period through the first three and a half minutes. Calgary couldn’t even get a line change until around two and a half minutes had gone by, and by that point in time their starting line could barely move. Again, the Avs domination was fruitless however, as Smith stayed unbelievably strong in net.
Although the Avs did well to dictate play through this period, Calgary was still finding ways to get into the slot and create their own quality chances. However, when they finally broke through, it was a play of sheer luck.
The Avs had just done well to kill off another penalty, but faced a faceoff in their own zone. The faceoff was won by Calgary, and a series of strange bounces left the puck on Sean Monahan’s stick in the low slot. All he had to do was swing his stick awkwardly at the pick and it was in the back of the net.
That goal, and the manner it was scored in, would have been absolutely heart breaking for Colorado had it been the final score. Fortunately, the Avalanche employ a young man named J.T. Compher. Compher scored a beauty of a goal off an offensive zone faceoff with approximately three minutes remaining. The puck again was bouncing wildly, just as it had when Monahan scored, but Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen did well to settle it down before finding Compher on the doorstep.
Before this game would head to overtime, Grubauer had to make one last incredible save to get us there, stoning Matthew Tkachuk twice on the doorstop in a matter of seconds.
Early in the extra frame, the Avalanche suffered a huge set back as Sam Girard took a hit from Sam Bennett and was forced to leave the game. Bennett should probably hear from the Department of Player Safety, but with their inconsistencies, who knows?
Nathan MacKinnon will get all the fanfare for quite a well worked goal, but Grubauer’s spectacular save at the other end was the only reason he even had a chance.
Grubauer denied Tkachuk on the doorstop again and MacKinnon went streaking down the ice. Rantanen found him perfectly and MacKinnon put it over Smith’s glove with expert precision.
The Avalanche were absolutely dominant until the overtime period. Shot attempts were 86-60 in favor of the Avs - and that’s including a 14-2 discrepancy for the Flames in overtime. The Avalanche deserved this one.
This series takes its first trip to Colorado tied at one game each. The Avalanche will be happy to get home and introduce the Pepsi Center to a new season of playoff hockey. The game will be Monday at 8 PM Mountain Time. It will be broadcast on NBCSports and Altitude.
Now we play the Cale Makar waiting game