The Colorado Avalanche have rebounded since their two losses last week to the Columbus Blue Jackets and are on a roll. Tonight’s feast included a main dish of Sharks from San Jose, who were indulged by the Avs 6-2 Saturday night.
The Avs now move above .500 for the first time since opening night, up to 6-5-1. The player of the game was Sam Girard, earning the first star of the night with a goal and three assists. Let’s recap how he did it along with his teammates performance on the night.
Right out of the gate, the Avs fell behind. It would be a man the Avs know all too well to give the Sharks the early lead. This would be from Logan Couture, who slapped one all the way from the sideboards over Darcy Kuemper to make it 1-0 just three minutes in.
The Avs slowly built their way back into the game after the Sharks early advantage. Just past the halfway mark, Girard would get his first assist of the night on the power play. He did his little flip backwards to Devon Toews who walloped one past Adin Hill to tie it at one.
Just three minutes later, Nazem Kadri would break through the middle of the offensive zone splitting a couple of Sharks defenders. He smoothly deked out Hill to slot it into an open net to give the Avs a 2-1 advantage heading into the intermission.
Teams came out for the second a little more even. Things looked jaded for the first half of the frame, until the Sharks had a great chance in front after Kuemper let up a rebound and lost sight of the puck. A sliding and sprawling Girard flew in front of the net to keep the lead in dramatic fashion.
He wasn’t done there though. Girard would use his silky skating down the left wing and fed a perfect pass right to the tape of Alex Newhook. Newhook took the opportunity and smashed into the net for his first career regular season goal and a 3-1 lead.
Just a few minutes later, the Avs were on the penalty kill, looking to stall any momentum coming from the Sharks. Darren Helm and Logan O’Connor connected, sending LOC in alone on Hill. He tricked to Hill’s right and backhanded it over the netminder to extend the lead to 4-1 with another shorthanded goal.
The Avs were simply looking to put the game to bed and see it out without another defensive collapse. It started out on the wrong foot though, as Alexander Barbanov would convert on the power play to cut the lead to two.
The Avs came right back and responded quickly. Girard shot one from up high that went off the shin of Gabriel Landeskog that left him shaken. Luckily, the rebound bounced right to Andre Burakovsky who slipped it through traffic into the twine to make it 5-2.
The Avs didn’t look back from there. They were in control and steady for the third, a sigh of relief for all after seeing some third period collapses in the past. The San Jose Sharks pulled Hill out of desperation, leaving Girard to tack on an empty netter to seal the deal 6-2.
As mentioned earlier, the player of the game by far was Girard. With his empty net goal and three assists on the night, he led the line from the back end. While Girard has had some lackluster performances this season, he did not disappoint tonight and looked back to his old self. There were rumblings this week of Girard being on the chopping block for a trade if Joe Sakic decided to make any moves, but he certainly put those rumors six feet under tonight.
Kuemper played a solid game in the back. After taking some time to settle in to his new environment and get the trust of his defense, he is 4-2-0 with a .929 save percentage in his last six games. Up front, Newhook played a good game. Being on the recieving end of a Girard pass helps and he looks settled into this Avs team. He said himself in his postgame interview that his speed and style of play is more suited for the NHL rather than the Colorado Eagles in the AHL. He hopes to stay here, and he deserves to be as well.
A little fun fact from tonight’s game: this is the second game in a row for the Avs to get a shorthanded goal. It is their third of the season. Last year, the Avs had only one shorthanded goal all season. Special teams, at least on the defensive end, is looking very solid. With a power play goal tonight, let’s hope the offensive end of special teams gets rolling here too.
Tonight didn’t come without its negatives though. Sometime in the first period, J.T. Compher suffered an upper body injury and did not return to the game. Jared Bednar in his post game presser said he’s “not doing great right now...I have no idea on timeline. Could be two games, could be much longer.” Obviously this is not what Avs fans needed hear, and the injury bug continues to reign supreme over the team. Keep an eye out for any news on him as well as any other possible call ups from the Eagles before the next game.
Speaking of the next game, the Avalanche need to dust off their passports to go to Canada for the first time in nearly two years on Wednesday night. They visit the Vancouver Canucks, who will be looking to rebound after their own mauling by this Avalanche squad on Thursday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. MT.