The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche played an extremely hard-fought game on Saturday afternoon that ended in the Knights’ favor 3-2 in OT. Vegas was the better team offensively, outshooting the Avalanche and working harder towards the end of the game.
The Avs came out flying offensively and showing their stuff. Halfway through the 2nd period, it looked all and well for the boys in burgundy who were looking to leapfrog the Knights for first in the West. After the halfway mark of the game, the team just flatlined and didn’t get as much moving forward as Vegas did, which ultimately led to their demise in overtime.
The Avs knew they would be playing for first place Saturday afternoon and played like it too. Not even 90 seconds in, Joonas Donskoi wrapped around three D-men for the Golden Knights and ripped it up high over Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 1-0.
Right afterwards, Dan Renouf went at it with Keegan Kolesar after his dirty hit on Bowen Byram on Thursday night which left him out of the lineup for Saturday’s game. Renouf stood his ground against his opponent and both got five for fighting. The pressure was on Vegas, as the Avs continued to bring pressure. Vegas had their chances as well, with Philipp Grubauer standing tall when he needed to.
This would not last long, however, as a cross-checking penalty to Gabriel Landeskog gave the Knights a power play goal from Alec Martinez who smashed it home over Grubauer to tie the game.
The deadlock would be broken soon after, as Devon Toews and Nathan MacKinnon played a game of give-and-go which saw Toews beat Fleury in the slot after he jumped into the play to make it 2-1 late.
The period would end with some hostility as Ryan Reaves and Nazem Kadri were chirping at one another after their sticks got tangled, setting up a battle for the second period.
While the Avs sent a lot of pressure towards Fleury, it would be the Vegas Golden Knights who got the only goal of the period, when Shea Theodore shot one from up high that was deflected by William Carrier past Grubauer to tie it at two.
As the period progressed, the physicality ramped up with some big hits by Vegas. Reaves ran Renouf to the ice, and Brayden Mcnabb clobbered Andre Burakovsky when he was going into the zone.
Therefore, this period was a lot closer in action and very even. This will continue to be the story for the rest of the season between these two clubs, who were fighting hard up to this point. Donskoi would get a brilliant chance late when he stopped on a dime to Fleury’s left, but he would make the stop.
The Golden Knights came out flying, forcing the Avs to spend a lot of time in their own zone. There was a big chance for Brandon Saad who came in alone to Fleury’s left and was denied.
After the Avs killed off a couple of power plays for Vegas, they were hanging on. The Golden Knights had more energy, out-skating the Avs and putting more pucks on net. Grubauer made some ginormous saves to keep the game tied. This ultimately led to the most important game of the season up to now to go to OT.
After Kadri came on to win the two faceoffs in the extra frame, the Avs would not get much going forward. This ultimately led to an odd-man rush for Vegas, where Max Pacioretty forced one home at the doorstep, breaking Toews’s stick in the process, to beat the Avs 3-2 in OT.
Donskoi continues to be one of the Avalanche’s best players this season behind the first line. He now sits on 11 goals on the season after scoring 90 seconds in. He was used on the first unit power play and in the extra frame, proving his worth to Jared Bednar to put him in the game when the team needs him most.
Grubauer stood on his head today, ultimately earning the Avs at least one point out of the matchup. He made some quality saves late in this one, keeping Vegas out of the net until the wildness of 3-on-3 overtime came into play.
With first place on the line in the game today, it had the feel of a Game 7 playoff game. A hard, physical game with some big hits by the Vegas Golden Knights hurt the Avs in this two-game stretch. With the offense and defense both teams have on their side, it creates for a great matchup for the NHL. If these two do meet in the playoffs this season, it’s sure to get people’s attention on how hard-fought these two teams are in the West.
The Avalanche welcome the Anaheim Ducks into town for a Monday night matchup at Ball Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM MT.