A blizzard, daylight savings, illnesses and a puck drop time change led to a lot of uncertainty surrounding this game but Colorado Avalanche and LA Kings soldiered on to finish their weekend set of games. Hopefully fans in Colorado stuck at home tuned in for this one which provided surprising playoff type intensity plus the home team prevailed in an entertaining and convincing 4-1 victory.
Nazem Kadri had been thwarted dozens of times lately but he made his scoring chance count this time at 11:05 when he toe dragged around Kings defenseman Tobias Björnfot and got off a clean look for a snipe into the back of the net and an early first period lead.
At times the Avalanche started playing too fancy again in the offensive zone and it felt like we were headed for another low scoring high shot volume game especially with a 20 shot first period which resulted in only one goal. However at 14:05 Andre Burakovsky made it look easy when he cashed in right and the net front on a fantastic passing play started by Kadri and Brandon Saad.
Finally the third score converted just three minutes later was what had eluded the Avalanche for seemingly weeks which was that ping pong style dirty goal and one that put the game away. Joonas Donskoi redeemed missing a wide open net from earlier with this tally and he fight for the puck and punched it over Kings goaltender Cal Petersen.
The third period became a bit more interesting when the Kings got a goal from Kurtis MacDermid at 6:07 on a shot from the blue line and snuck past Philipp Grubauer through a teammate screening him. However the Avalanche didn’t let the game get closer than that and Nathan MacKinnon added an empty net goal to arrive at a 4-1 final. For those keeping track, the Avalanche kept their streak going to a 16th consecutive game of holding opponents under 30 shots with a final count of 41-28 for the Avalanche in the contest.
This game was far more in doubt than the box score would indicate. The Avalanche had to kill off five consecutive penalties including multiple occasions when the game was close and one in the third frame just after the Kings had scored. With the Avalanche experiencing difficulties scoring lately the penalty kill continues to keep momentum on their side in games which could turn the wrong direction quickly.
The Kings are much improved this year and looked it in this game. This current divisional setup has made the standings a lot closer than anticipated and it was much more crucial that it seemed to sweep the Kings and keep them below the playoff cutoff line. A sweep the other direction would have left the Avalanche as the team on the outside looking in.
MacKinnon scored his second empty net goal in as many games but the finishing touch has still eluded him. With only two goals at 5v5 he’s shown his frustrations at times but is still generating an incredible shot volume. That said just three shots on goal was a relatively quiet night from him. This game was where the second line took charge but for the Avalanche to have sustained success they will need more pucks in the net from MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog.
Just a one-off against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, March 16th at 7pm MT.