After a disappointing showing in Dallas the night prior the Colorado Avalanche put in a much better effort headlined by a couple special performances in the second night of a back-to-back and handled the Nashville Predators in a 6-2 final score.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to get on the board for the crucial early lead. At 4:41 the Avalanche converted on the power play with a little different look of Gabe Landeskog shooting from the right circle and Mikko Rantanen tipping the puck past Nashville goaltender David Rittich.
The Avalanche would add another from Rantanen before the period was over as he scored on his patented one-timer at 17:37. Going into the first intermission with a 2-0 was a great feeling especially after last game’s early deficit.
Bowen Byram was back in the lineup after a six-game absence and while the team mostly did well without him he was quick to remind just how much he brings to the table and elevates the team when he’s on the ice. Byram reads the play so well and suck down to the net front to receive a pass from Gabe Landeskog in which he tipped past the Nashville netminder for his fourth goal of the season at 6:19 into the second period. The goal would eventually stand as the game winner, which was also Byram’s second of the season.
Just before the second frame expired Gabe Landeskog got into some hot water after a hard dive into the net and a tussle with Mattias Ekholm. Landeskog ended up with 17 penalty minutes and as the only one penalized for a fighting major meant the Avalanche had to kill off the penalty.
The third period began with the Avalanche doing just that punctuated with a Val Nichushkin goal at 6:42 as a reward once the teams were back at even strength as he tipped a Rantanen shot. The Avalanche were up 4-1 at that point and clearly in the driver’s seat just hoping to run the clock out.
Just after killing off a Jayson Megna penalty Mikko Rantanen completed his third career hat trick at 15:12 for the Avalanche’s fifth score of the game. Rantanen pounced on the loose puck which was had been blocked to put the game away for good.
In the final minutes of the third period Matt Duchene added a goal for the Predators to continue his hot start and Tyson Jost scored his second goal of the season off of a fantastic feed from Nicolas Aube-Kubel to arrive at the 6-2 final. It was a much needed bounce back effort for the Avalanche and a nice way to cap off the month of November before heading out on to the road.
Jonas Johansson took the net and earned his second win of the week in a 26 save effort. His performance has really calmed the Avalanche with a couple big saves which has allowed them to gain the lead. Cale Makar snapped his goal scoring streak but added three assists. Nazem Kadri kept up his torrid start with two assists as well in a complete team effort.
It was fantastic to see Byram back in the lineup to begin with but he quickly proved he was there to make a difference regardless of any time missed. He constantly pushes the play and jumped up to make aggressive reads and scoring chances. Not only did he finish with the game winning goal but added four shots on goal plus absurd analytic stat lines of 28 corsi for and 14 against, nine individual shot attempts and four individual scoring chances all at 22 minutes of even strength time on ice. Any game with Byram is truly a gift.
Injury news never truly escapes the team, however, as Ryan Murray left the game in the first period after one shift in what was deemed a lower body injury by the team. Jared Bednar has some good news after the game though as he said Nathan MacKinnon is on track to practice next week and could return the first game of the road trip.
The first contest of a five-game road trip in Toronto on Wednesday, December 1st at 5:30 p.m. MT.