A tough matchup unfolded for the Colorado Avalanche in this contest against the Washington Capitals. Moved to prime time to accommodate Alex Ovechkin’s quest for 700 career goals, it was the other talented players who ended up beating the Avalanche in a third period come from behind victory which ended in a 3-2 win for Washington.
It didn’t take long for the action to begin as Nathan MacKinnon found Andre Burakovsky on a 2-on-1 for the game’s first tally less than three minutes in. Against his former team Burakovsky set a career high in goals for a season at 18.
The Avalanche weren’t done in the period as Mikko Rantanen continued his recent uptick in play and scored his 19th goal of the season with a great move and shot at 16:05 on the power play. The Avalanche took a commanding 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Penalties were the story of the second period as each team received three power plays thus ending the momentum the Avalanche were building at even strength. The Avalanche did not cash in on any of the opportunities despite getting a full minute 5-on-3. The Capitals however did convert one of their man advantages when Nicklas Backstrom tipped in a crisp pass from Jakub Vrana at 11:37.
By the third period the Avalanche were off their game. After giving the Capitals two more power plays at 12:48 Tom Wilson finally struck to tie the game. The Avalanche had a few flickers of life in the dying minutes of the third period but could not find the puck poise. Following an icing they gave up the winning goal on a tip play to TJ Oshie with just over two minutes remaining and that was the game — a 3-2 victory for Washington.
The Avalanche couldn’t get a goal after the first period and one truism of hockey is failing to score on a 5-on-3 leads to defeat, which held up as the truth in this case. The passivity is such a hallmark of the Avalanche’s slow developing power play that it really holds them back on the double man advantage. In this game reestablishing a two-goal cushion could have gone a long way.
All the special teams play led to a very disjointed hockey game but when there was an opportunity to settle things down the Avalanche couldn’t get a handle on the game. In the first period especially it looked like Washington was slowing down with age against the fast and spry Avalanche team but it was team maturity which won out in the end. There were many immature mistakes which undermined the home team in this contest such as careless high sticking fouls, turnovers and icings. The type of maturity the Avalanche need can only grow together over time and can’t be bought.
With another goal Mikko Rantanen looks like he is finally feeling better and getting his game back on track. He has put in good efforts since returning from the break with now four goals in seven games but his last two goals show some renewed confidence to go along with the improved mobility. Another fun statistic is that Rantanen went 10/11 on face offs in this game.
Finally, the Stadium Series outdoor game against the LA Kings at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, CO on Saturday at 6pm MT.