The Colorado Avalanche would continue their red hot scoring streak, as they pummeled the Ottawa Senators 7-5. This would run the Avalanche winning streak to five games and take their recent goal tally to an absurd 31 in their last five games played.
It was Girls Hockey Night at Ball Arena as the Avalanche came into tonight’s contest on a four-game winning streak. Ottawa came into Colorado after a week-long COVID induced layoff, previously dropping a 4-0 loss to Calgary way back on November 14th.
Tonight marked Nicholas Aube-Kubel’s home debut for the Avalanche, as well as captain Gabriel Landeskog’s 700th NHL game.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to get rolling in front of the home crowd, with big Valeri Nichushskin doing what he does best and generating a turnover behind the Ottawa net. Some quick passing ended with the Russian winger getting rewarded for his hard work with an easy tap in to put Colorado in front with just 50 seconds played.
The Senators could be considered lucky to have kept the game at 1-0 for as long as they did. The goaltenders would keep the contest close, with both Filip Gustavsson and Darcy Kuemper making big saves. Gustavsson would make the biggest stop; stone-walling Jayson Megna after the Avalanche fourth-liner broke through the Senator defense to get one on one with the Ottawa netminder.
Ottawa would soon take advantage of that big save keeping the game within one, as a Nazem Kadri holding penalty would provide the Senators with a power-play they would use to even up the game.
Bednar usually throws the top line on the ice after an opposing goal in hopes of re-capturing momentum. Tonight, it worked to full effect, as Landeskog would find Cale Makar with a gorgeous pass and the young superstar defender would bury the chance to retake the lead less than 20 seconds after Ottawa tied the game.
It looked like Colorado would head to the locker room with a lead, but a turnover and a big rebound to Artem Zub would cost the Avalanche the lead with only 45 seconds left in the period.
End First Period: Colorado 2 - Ottawa 2
Goals: Nichushkin (3), Makar (6) - Sanford (3), Zub (1)
Shots: COL 10 - OTT 7
It was a strange middle period with the Avalanche playing as though they were on a power play throughout the period. The Senators didn’t register a shot on goal until 6:21 left. For the first twelve or so minutes of the period, the most entertaining bits were an absolutely dominant power play and a blown skate. The Avalanche registered at least six shots on that power play, but couldn’t get past Gustavsson, who was immense throughout the first ten minutes of the period.
The blown skate was an interesting sequence that saw Kuemper kick the steel out of his skate on the post, the trainer unable to quickly fix the issue, and Jonas Johansson making the first save of the period. Kuemper would soon return, but not before the Avalanche retook the lead.
Nazem Kadri is on a tear. He earned his second primary assist of the evening on a beautiful pass to a cutting Devon Toews who turned the pass into the back of the net.
The Avalanche didn’t hold this lead for long, with another turnover allowing Ottawa to even the game back up for the third time.
Samuel Girard earned himself a trip to the penalty box shortly before the period ended, so the Avalanche would have a penalty to kill to begin the third. It was another period where Colorado outplayed Ottawa by a significant margin, but couldn’t fully capitalize, mostly due to the mistakes in their own end.
End Second Period: Colorado 3 - Ottawa 3
Goals: Toews (3) - Sanford (4)
Shots: COL 19 (29) - OTT 4 (11)
The Avalanche began the period on the back foot, with Ottawa converting on the power play that carried over from the second period. Colorado got punished for every mistake tonight by a sniping Senators squad.
Makar then took the game on his shoulders, as he clearly does not like losing, to tie the game up less than two minutes after the Avalanche went behind.
The wild game continued, as Sanford completed his hat-trick off the side of Kuemper’s mask, giving Ottawa a 5-4 lead only five minutes into the third.
The Avalanche’s sloppy play continued, with Nichushkin taking a penalty shortly after the goal. During this penalty kill, Tyson Jost and Tyler Ennis both went to the box after Ennis elbowed Jost. Jost took exception to this and would add matching roughing minors to the elbowing penalty on Ennis.
The power play earned by Jost proved to be a spark for the Avalanche, with Mikko Rantanen getting on the scoreboard with a huge goal to tie the game at five with just over ten minutes to play.
For the next few minutes, the play was very even with both teams getting chances. With the game looking likely to be headed to overtime, the “hustle” line put together for the third period cashed in to give the Avalanche a lead with just under two minutes to play. This line; consisting of Nichushkin, Alex Newhook and Logan O’Connor worked their way into the game-winning goal, with Newhook finding the net after kicking it to himself beautifully.
Ottawa would call a timeout after the Newhook goal and pull Gustavsson for the remaining 90 seconds. It was too little too late, as Kadri capped off his monster game with an empty-net goal to seal the victory for Colorado.
End of Regulation: Colorado 7 - Ottawa 5
Goals: Makar (7), Rantanen (7), Newhook (2) - Norris (7), Sanford (5)
Shots: COL 40 - OTT 21
Power Play: COL 1/4 - OTT 2/3
Hits: COL 20 - OTT 20
Blocks: COL 14 - OTT 14
The Avalanche offense is flying, despite missing Byram, Compher and MacKinnon. Makar and Kadri were on another level this evening and Nichushkin was fantastic throughout as well. The team put in seven tonight and if not for some great goaltending from Gustavsson, it easily could’ve been ten. Even the fourth line looked sharp against a vastly overmatched Senators team.
It’s a good thing the offense was clicking because Kuemper was not sharp tonight. While the stat line is ugly (11/14, .750) the Avalanche goaltender couldn’t do much with two of the goals from Ottawa. Only one of the goals stood out as particularly bad, but Kuemper gave up some long rebounds and had more than one moment where he looked to be flailing around in his crease. While it didn’t matter tonight against a poor Senators squad, it’s something to watch going forward with the Avalanche goalie.
Colorado (9-5-1) welcomes Anaheim (10-6-3) to town on Wednesday, November 24th. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. MT