The hockey gods just seem to do weird, weird things when the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators meet.
After a 7-5 outing a couple weeks ago, the Avs and Sens met again in Ottawa where this time the Sens came out on top 6-5 in OT. There are so many adjectives one could use to describe this game, all right from the get-go.
Right out the gate, Darren Helm would find himself down low all by himself. He would take advantage of this opportunity, getting Anton Forsberg to go down and lift up a backhander into the net for an early 1-0 lead
It would not last long though, as captain Brady Tkachuk came in on a 3-on-2 and rifled it past Jonas Johansson to tie it at one. Just seconds later, Austin Watson received a beautiful pass from Dylan Gambrell to give the Sens a 2-1 lead
The wildness continued, as a tripping penalty on Josh Norris was converted with a slapshot from the point from Devon Toews that was deflected by Gabriel Landeskog to tie it at two.
Things calmed down from there, but the hockey gods do something crazy whenever these two have met this season. It didn’t come without its chances though, as Johansson and Forsberg had to make some big saves to keep it level heading into the break.
There is one word to describe this period: bizarre. Tim Stützle was run into by Jack Johnson away from the goal, ran into Johansson, knocking the net off its moorings and the puck crossed the line. Because Johnson made the initial contact, it was deemed a goal that left everyone scratching their heads making it 3-2.
It went from bad to worse. Norris collected a rebound from Johansson and put it past him for the 4-2 lead.
That would be all for Johansson, as he was pulled for the first career NHL game for Justus Annunen. But even he couldn’t fix the wound, as Stützle dangled him and Erik Johnson out before sniping it top shelf to make it 5-2.
Things did not look good for the Avs and they could’ve just called it quits from there after seeing everything that occurred to them in the frame. Alex Newhook had other ideas, as he collected the puck in the neutral zone, skated through the defense, and buried one beautifully past Forsberg to cut it to 5-3.
Logan O’Connor almost forced another shorthanded goal off of a turnover but Tyson Jost couldn’t finish it. Jost would miss an empty net at a tight angle, and LOC would also be unable to convert on a breakaway. The Avs were running the play and despite the scoreline, there was a chance heading into the third.
Things started out well for the Avs in their comeback. On a delayed penalty call, Jost parked himself in front and deflected a MacKinnon shot past Forsberg. Just like that, it was 5-4 with lots of time left to get an equalizer.
It was from there on out the Senators started playing ugly hockey. They parked it in the neutral zone and the Avs could not get anything going in the offensive zone. In the defensive end, Annunen was cool as a cucumber to keep giving his team a chance.
Landeskog thought he had the game-tying goal with under three minutes left on a wrister from the point. But, by a very slim margin, the puck had exited the zone during the set-up and it was disallowed after a coaches challenge.
Just a minute later, Teows would get one that counted, when he smoked one from the point past Forsberg for a 5-5 tie to send it to the extra frame, getting a point in the process.
After the Avs dominated possession, one turnover was given to Tkachuk who poke checked it away and got it past the young rookie Annunen to win it 6-5 with the only chance of the period for the Senators.
Let’s not mince our words here - the Avs were bad. Specifically, defensively the Avalanche were atrocious. Too many guys were making too many mistakes that lead to goals, like J. Johnson. It was what led to their demise in Toronto horrifically, and the only reason it wasn’t more than a 6-5 final was because the Sens don’t have the same quality as the Leafs. Jared Bednar needs to address this instantly because that will not fly against high-ranking teams.
One of the few bright spots from this game is Annunen. He came in in relief of Johansson for his first career NHL game and looked calm as ever. The two goals he allowed was nothing he could do about either of them. If Darcy Kuemper is still out come Monday, Annunen might be in for a shout for his first career start. He got the Avs their one extremely lucky point tonight, which might be huge moving forward.
Injuries continue to plague the Avalanche. Tonight specifically, there was no Nazem Kadri (LBI), Bowen Byram (UBI) and Cale Makar (UBI) who pulled out during warmups. With the amount of injuries, the severity of them, and the amount of time players are missing, it might be time to start questioning how these guys are getting fit and training with coaches. Something is obviously not working and causing guys to be unprepared for games to get hurt and is bringing the team down. Or, we could all be looking into it a little too much. Nonetheless, health-wise, the Avs are struggling which leads to a downgrade in on-ice performance.
The road trip nears its end, as the Avs go South of the Canadian border to visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night. Puck drop is set for 5 p.m. MT.