After a big weekend taking three of four points from new division rival Vegas the Colorado Avalanche were back at it to start the week and grind through another more difficult than it should be meeting with the Anaheim Ducks. Eventually the home team prevailed as the Avalanche took shots both literally and figuratively at the Ducks for a 5-2 victory.
Mikko Rantanen started the show early on at just under three minutes into the game with another incredible shot in which the goaltender has no chance of stopping off of a slick feed from Nathan MacKinnon on a face-off play. It was Rantanen’s 20th goal of the season and makes the fourth season in his career that he has hit that milestone.
The lead did not last last long as just after their first failed power play of the evening the Avalanche fell asleep on a Ducks rush and let Danton Heiden side open to deflect the puck past Philipp Grubauer at 9:14.
For the rest of the opening frame the game devolved into needless chippiness which would become the undercurrent theme of this game. Officiating seemed random at times with big slashes going uncalled but the Avalanche held up against the nastiness.
Another good start into the second frame saw Tyson Jost score his third of the year off of a Ryan Graves shot that jumped out for a juicy rebound just under four minutes into the period.
Finally the power play broke through on it’s fourth try when Gabe Landeskog tipped a Cale Makar shot at 16:20. It was exactly what the team needed was for the Ducks to pay for some of the borderline antics they pulled and to also assert the power play as a weapon to put games away.
Good thing for that 3-1 lead to begin the third period because three minutes in Troy Terry converted a goal back of a turnover on the breakout which made things interesting for a few minutes with the Avalanche suddenly trying to hold on to a one goal lead.
But the fourth line to the rescue as they had an excellent shift with Makar at the helm and JT Compher buried the second glorious chance he saw at 7:26 for his fourth goal of the season.
Cushion restored as the Avalanche chewed through the rest of the game as fast as they could at that point. Makar decided to turn a wrap around attempt into a highlight reel assist for the fifth Avalanche goal as Val Nichushkin hammered the loose puck at 9:30.
A fight between Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Getzlaf broke out in the final minutes plus some more hacking and whacking but the Avalanche were the ones who walked out of the building with the two points and 5-2 win in their pocket.
This game contained numerous good performances but Cale Makar was on a mission. I’ll just let this summary speak to how well Makar played but he was visibly fired up and looking to make a difference.
Cale Makar tonight:— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 30, 2021
•21:58 time on ice
•8 shot attempts
•2 penalties drawn
•With him on ice at 5v5 (via NST).. shot attempts were 23-5, shots on goal were 12-2, goals were 4-0
Secondary, or even tertiary, scoring has been a big boost as of late to help supplement a hot Mikko Rantanen. Getting goals from the likes of Jost, Compher and Nichushkin gives the Avalanche a complete team attack and really begs the question of why there’s a need to change a thing that’s going on with the forward lines at the trade deadline.
A big talking point after the Vegas series was if the the Avalanche can play their speed and puck control based style and withstand the physical pressure from other teams. Anaheim seemed to give up on the idea of winning on the scoreboard early in the game at while the Avalanche did receive six power plays also suffered through a lot of missed cheap shots. They pushed back some of their own thus leading to roughing penalties but the team stood up for each other which is really what’s important in dealing with pettiness from the opposition.
Another one-off at home against the Arizona Coyotes, again, at 7pm MT on Wednesday, March 31st.