There was no rest for the Colorado Avalanche as they began the first half of a back-to-back against the San Jose Sharks. With a depleted lineup this game wasn’t pretty at certain points but the Avalanche held enough control to manage a 4-3 win.
To begin the game was some back and forth action with not a lot of shots and whistles. There were however several power plays and each team cashed in on the man advantage. First the Sharks got on the board when Joe Thornton was left wide open and started the scoring at 11:16.
The Avalanche would respond five minutes later when Nathan MacKinnon got an open look of his own and fired a one timer past Sharks netminder Martin Jones. Thus, the first period ended with a 1-1 tie.
Two minutes into the second period the Avalanche would strike again to take the lead as Gabe Landeskog deposited a juicy rebound off of a MacKinnon shot. That score did not last long when at 3:41 the Avalanche gave up a breakaway to Melker Karlsson when the Kevin Connauton’s shot was blocked right out into the neutral zone.
The Avalanche would get the lead back at 8:41 after a superb Sam Girard carry all the way into the offensive zone which set up the top line to get on the board again. This time Vladislav Namestnikov did the work in front of the net to put the puck home for the third Avalanche score of the night. The score remained 3-2 after two periods despite the Avalanche getting a near minute long 5-on-3 power play.
Thd scoring died down into much of the third period until Joonas Donskoi got the all-important insurance marker at 15:27 off a perfect feed from J.T. Compher. Although it wasn’t known at the time the goal would end up as the game winner it was also noteworthy because this was Donskoi’s first game back in San Jose since leaving in free agency.
The Sharks made things interesting with a minute to go as Noah Gregor scored a late power play tally but the third period never really felt in doubt. The Avalanche were the better team in this contest and picked up the 4-3 victory.
Namestnikov was a noticeable contributor in this game with a goal and an assist bringing his total to five points including three goals since his acquisition at the trade deadline seven games ago. He’s filled in well on the top line with MacKinnon and Landeskog and is proving that impactful help at the deadline doesn’t have to cost much or be a big move.
MacKinnon added three points in this contest to bring his totals to 93 points on the season and is inching toward that milestone 100-point mark. The top line is beginning to look like it’s found a groove again and in turn MacKinnon is heating up. This should strike fear in the rest of the NHL.
For the second straight game Nikita Zadorov was a healthy scratch. This has placed extra stress on the defensive core with Cale Makar still out of the lineup. Hopefully some things can get figured out as the Avalanche will need Zadorov’s contributions down the stretch and into the playoffs.
On to Southern California for another meeting with the LA Kings to conclude the back-to-back and road trip. Puck drop is at 8:30pm on Monday night.