The Colorado Avalanche took the short trip to Anaheim to take on the Ducks and get back to their winning ways after the 4-2 loss to the Kings. With Martin Kaut seeing his first start of the season and Jared Bednar returning to a more traditional 12 forward, six defenseman line configuration for the second game in a back-to-back for the Avalanche. This would prove wise, as Colorado did not experience the late-game fade that proved so costly in Los Angeles and outlast the Ducks in overtime to take a 3-2 victory.
Coach Bednar opens the game with the Nazem Kadri line in a game that sees the team return to a 12 forward, six defenseman lineup with the inclusion of Kaut. Tonight also marked the 100th career game for Ryan Graves. The team started quickly once the top line hits the ice. Mikko Rantanen draws a penalty. This spells bad news for the Ducks, as the Avalanche come into the game with the power play clicking at a 42% rate in the young season. Ducks goalie John Gibson keeps out a flurry of shots from Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog, but has no chance on the perfect cross-crease pass from Samuel Girard to Joonas Donskoi for Donskoi’s second goal of the season.
The goal marked the fifth time the second power play unit has scored on the season, matching the first unit up to this point.
Philipp Grubauer would keep the game tied after a pair of fantastic saves and a goal-line clearance from Bowen Byram would keep the one goal lead intact for Colorado.
This would be followed up with a tripping penalty on Kaut, bringing the Ducks power play, searching for its first goal of the season, to the ice for the first time in the game. The Avalanche penalty kill would keep the Avs lead intact through the period, killing the Kaut penalty and a Brandon Saad tripping infraction later in the frame.
After one period, the Avalanche take the one goal lead into intermission. Colorado was outshot by Anaheim 18 to 13 in the first. The penalty kill and Grubauer did a great job keeping the Avalanche ahead despite being outshot and spending four minutes on the penalty kill in the period.
It wouldn’t take long for the Ducks to translate their strong play in the latter half of the first period into a goal. Grubauer had no chance on this Rickard Rakell fed Hampus Lindholm one-time rocket.
The second period was not a good one for Colorado. However, Grubauer was up to the task, seeing the puck incredibly well and keeping the game from getting out of hand in this period. The penalty kill also did a good job this period, killing off back to back penalties and keeping the game tied headed into the 3rd. The Avalanche were out-shot nine to three in the period, bringing the total shots at 27 to 16 in favor of Anaheim.
The Avalanche would start the period on a power play, but would be frustrated by the Ducks penalty kill and spend much of the power play in the neutral zone. Valeri Nichushskin would get robbed on a great chance by the blocker of Gibson to wrap up the power play.
You wouldn’t think half way through the third period in the second game of a back-to-back would be when a 19 year old rookie would start to shine. Most rookies aren’t Bowen Byram. His influence was getting noticeable on the game at this point and Byram was now sharing the ice with Cale Makar a whole lot more than in the first two periods. Then this happened...
What a play by Byram to feed Rantanen to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. The Avalanche defense is going to be the best in the league for years with Makar, Byram, Sam Girard and Devon Toews.
The elation of Byram’s first career point wouldn’t last long, as the Ducks would tie the game back up on a odd-man rush, leaving Greg Pateryn two on one with Adam Henrique burying the game tying goal.
The top line would be brought out to answer the Ducks goal and almost immediately draw a penalty shot. MacKinnon took the penalty shot, but it was saved by Gibson, who was immense throughout the game. The Avalanche and Ducks would then trade penalties back and forth with neither team able to break the deadlock.
With less than a minute on the clock, Grubauer saves the game with an incredible save after a bad defensive zone turnover. This would take the game to overtime for the first time in Colorado’s season.
The Ducks control the puck for a bit and keep the first unit on the ice for over a minute before Rantenen clears the puck and Makar picks up the puck in the neutral zone on the line change. Makar flashes into the zone, picks out Landeskog streaking, but Gibson makes an incredible save to deny Landeskog. However, Landeskog would not be denied, collects the rebound and wraps around the net to end the game with a victory for the Avalanche.
The Avalanche end the game with 32 shots to 38 for the Ducks while going one for four on the power play and perfect on the penalty kill in five opportunities.
The Avalanche would shake up the lineup tonight and surprisingly give Bowen Byram his second consecutive starts. This would prove to be a great move with Byram picking up his first career point and looking like a savvy veteran in the crucial third period. As the game wore on, coach Bednar paired Byram with Makar more and more often and these shifts would generate lots of possession and a go-ahead goal. The future looks bright for the 19 year old defender who may be sticking around a lot longer than 9 games.
Philipp Grubauer also needs to be mentioned for standing on his head and coming out on top in the battle of two phenomenal goaltenders. Both Grubauer and his counterpart for the Ducks, John Gibson, made acrobatic and timely saves over and over for their teams. The save with less than a minute left to deny a breakaway and send the game to over-time was the perfect cherry on top of a great goaltending performance from the Avalanche netminder.
The penalty kill in general as well as Tyson Jost and Matt Calvert also deserve praise for their efforts keeping the Ducks power play in check. Despite giving up five penalties tonight, the Avalanche kept Anaheim scoreless on the power play this season.
The 3-1-0 Avalanche remain in Anaheim and will take on the 1-2-2 Ducks in the second game of a two game series. This game will take place Sunday, January 24 at 6:00pm MT on Altitude and Fox Sports San Diego.