After slaying the dragon in a big victory at home against the Blues it was time to head east on the road and take care of business. First up, the New Jersey Devils whom the Colorado Avalanche took away a 3-1 win from in Denver a few weeks ago.
A game that started out sleepy become more interesting but that didn’t take the two points away from the Avalanche as they cruised to a 5-2 win.
A quick but uneventful first period unfolded and then the pace slowed down in the second period until the dam finally broke.
Sam Girard started the play with a slick zone entry and dish to Nathan MacKinnon and then it was Mikko Rantanen who finished off the work of art with a blistering shot at 11:23. It was the first shift back together for the “top line” and they were rewarded.
Vladislav Kamenev, who was back in the lineup due to his fellow countryman Val Nichushkin’s illness, fed the puck back to Ian Cole at 15:34 and he took a shot which deflected and went past goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood.
The Avalanche added an exclamation mark to start the third period when off the opening faceoff Cale Makar grabbed the puck, made a move toward the net and Rantanen was there to finish off the play with another nice move. The goal was scored eight seconds which tied an Avalanche record for fastest goal to open a period.
A little bit of drama ensued when Blake Coleman scored short handed at 6:36. And then it looked like the Devils would make a push to really make things interesting when they received a power play with half a period left but the Avalanche a scored short handed goal of their own at 13:49. It appeared Matt Calvert collided skates with Blackwood as he was out of the net to play the puck which then Pierre-Edouard Bellemare rifled the puck into the vacated net. The Devils challenged for goaltender interference and were denied.
Jesper Boqvist added a second goal for the Devils at 18:37 but Mikko Rantanen countered with an empty net goal for his second career hat trick to seal the win for the Avalanche.
- With another two assists in this match Sam Girard now has eight points in his last three games. Girard’s play was sparked when he started using his skating ability and bringing the creativity back which makes him such a dynamic and elusive player but this time the production has finally followed. He also continues to play the most even strength minutes on the team and is a key player moving forward.
- Mikko Rantanen also has the game he needed to hopefully galvanize the second half of his season. Amazingly he only played just shy of 15 minutes in this game but was noticeable whenever he was on the ice. All three of his goals were great shots by him including the empty netter.
- Nathan MacKinnon also added two points to bring him just one point behind the Oilers duo with 64 points. He was fierce in this game as well throwing several big hits and driving the team emotionally through what was a sleepy contest through the first half.
The road trip continues against the New York Islanders on Monday, January 6th at 5pm MT.