The hits just keep coming for the Colorado Avalanche as they learned Mikko Rantanen was out for this game after leaving morning skate early with a minor lower body injury. The Avalanche inserted the only extra player they brought on the trip in Jacob MacDonald at forward and yet the team finally looked like a cohesive unit throughout the game. The St. Louis Blues made the game interesting at points but the Avalanche largely dominated and pulled out a much needed 4-3 victory and served up St. Louis their first loss of the season.
Unfortunately the game started with rerun of the Blues game from a couple weeks ago as Nazem Kadri was reluctantly goaded into a fight for his playoffs hit on Justin Faulk. This time Faulk was the one who got the punches in and took an instigator penalty along with it. The new look Avalanche second power play unit actually scored a goal on the ensuing man advantage which would have been Sampo Ranta’s first NHL goal but the play was deemed offside after St. Louis challenged the goal.
It was extra disappointing then when Colton Parayko put the first official score on the board at 9:21 on a hard shot from the point which leaked through Darcy Kuemper. The Avalanche got back to work and after working the puck through a hard forechecking cycle JT Compher tipped a Ryan Murray shot to tie the game just before the end of the first period. The Avalanche held a 14-5 edge in shots on goal and looked to take the momentum into the second period.
Finally the Avalanche found a lead and a power play goal on their fifth opportunity at 11:33 when JT Compher delivered a shot in the bumper spot and lifted all the Avalanche spirits. The icing on the cake occurred when public enemy number one Nazem Kadri filled the net for Colorado’s third goal just three minutes later. A 3-1 score is what the Avalanche deserved and finally had earned a convincing lead.
There was a strange exchange at the end of the second period but basically it involved Makar scoring a goal which would not count as the net was dislodged, Jordan Binnington getting irate about something and then swung his stick at Kadri’s head who then said something in return and somehow both of them got 10 minute misconducts.
For the third period the Avalanche just had to play smart hockey and bring the victory home but things got a little more complicated than that. Brayden Schenn took advantage of poor coverage from the fourth line and bottom pair at 4:13 to cut the Avalanche lead to 3-2. It took less than a minute, however, for Makar to restore the two goal cushion as he hammered home a shot past Binnington.
The Blues got a third goal on the board from Vlad Tarasenko with just under four minutes to go and make the final moments a little more stressful but the Avalanche were in control and killed the last remaining clock for a hard-earned 4-3 win. Shots were in favor of the Avalanche 42-18 and they held 62% of possession and 71% of expected goals in this contest.
Cale Makar is getting pretty close to his old self and scoring the game winning goal should help get that last little bit of confidence going. He was skating and playing much more aggressive in this contest. With a goal and assist tonight Makar finally crossed that 100 career points threshold and tied for sixth fastest from a defenseman in NHL history. Congrats, Cale!
Cale Makar recorded his 100th career point in 108 games. Only 9️⃣ active players have hit the mark faster: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Connor McDavid, Paul Stastny, Mathew Barzal, Elias Pettersson, Patrick Kane & Artemi Panarin.#NHLStats: https://t.co/hYyvbfejPX pic.twitter.com/ktXwiwFZ0v— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 29, 2021
Cale Makar and Bowen Byram have been a fantastic pair together which hopefully should continue even when Sam Girard and Devon Toews are back in the lineup. Byram and Makar read off of each other very well, use their similar but complimentary talents and are dominant together. In this game they held 79% Corsi For, 77% of expected goals and a 10-3 advantage in scoring chances. Byram continues to bring that physical edge and agitator role to the team as in this game he had an extended conversation with James Neal after a scrum.
For reference this is the lineup that the Avalanche earned a win on the road with against an undefeated division opponent. Each member of the depleted lineup pushed the team in the right direction tonight. Martin Kaut in particular stepped up as he would have earned an assist on the disallowed goal but finished with a +2 rating as his forechecking led to two Avalanche goals. Kaut’s 77% Corsi For led the team and in just over 11 minutes of time on ice he showed glimpses of why he should be an effective regular NHL player. Jacob MacDonald playing as a forward on the fourth line gave the lower lines a jolt of energy when he was on the ice.
Another division game, this time at home against the visiting Minnesota Wild at 6pm MT on Saturday, October 30th.