That was just what the doctor ordered. On the second stop of their five game road trip, the Colorado Avalanche dominated the Buffalo Sabres en route to a 6-1 victory.
Led by the line of Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Val Nichushkin, the Avs offense continued their scorching hot ways, scoring five or more goals for the third time in their last four games.
After a back and forth opening twelve minutes, in which the Sabres got a few decent scoring opportunities, the Avalanche broke the scoreless deadlock on a pretty wacky play. As Avalanche forwards were falling over themselves the the right of Carter Hutton, the puck drifted out into the far corner. Samuel Girard was able to track down the puck and put it into a completely open net for one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.
It took less than a minute for the Avalanche to extend their lead. Andre Burakovsky scored his 17th of the season - equaling his career high - with a nice shot off the rush. The play was set up by a beautiful touch pass in the neutral zone by Nazem Kadri as the Avs went up 2-0.
Just as it looked like the Avalanche were going to head to the intermission with a two goal lead, things went sideways. With less than a second remaining in the first period, Sam Reinhart tipped home a lazy point shot that got passed Philipp Grubauer to cut the lead in half. It was the kind of goal that can be a back-breaker going into the intermission and one you never want to give up.
The Avalanche controller possession in the period but the Sabres had the better share in shot quality at 5v5 pic.twitter.com/gQCjfFiI9Z— Chad DeDominicis (@CMDeDominicis) February 5, 2020
That goal late in the first most definitely didn’t give the Sabres any momentum as the Avalanche would respond with one of their best periods of the season. It took only a minute for Nazem Kadri to restore the two goal lead. Kadri sniped home his 18th goal of the season after receiving a beautiful cross-ice pass from Nichushkin.
A few minutes later, Nikita Zadorov got in on the action as he extended the lead to 4-1 when he scored his fourth goal of the season in a not very Zadorov like fashion. After some great puck possession by Burakovsky, he found Zadorov streaking to the slot and Big Z made no mistake, showing some soft hands and burying an impressive backhander past Hutton.
Midway through the period, the second line kept their domination going as Nichushkin joined his linemates with a goal of his own. He finished off a great passing play by Burakovsky and Cale Makar to make the score 5-1 and chance Carter Hutton from the Buffalo net. On the goal, Makar recorded his 27th assist of the season setting the Avalanche franchise record for most by a rookie defender.
The other assist was Burakovsky’s fourth point of the night and 39th of the season - setting a new career high with only 48 games played so far.
After the goalie change, the Avalanche didn’t let Jonas Johansson (who?) ease into his first NHL appearance. With a mere two minutes of game action in an NHL crease, Johansson had to face a two on one from Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen as his first shot against. Things went exactly the way your expect as MacKinnon dished the pass to Rantanen who rifled a bullet over Johansson’s shoulder to make the score 6-1.
The Avalanche were flat out dominant in the second period, showing just how lethal their offense can be - especially when they have a second rolling the way the Kadri line was tonight.
With both teams realizing this one was in the bag after 40 minutes, the third period was a whole lot of nothing.
The game ended 6-1 and the Avs will now head to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Thursday night.