After going up 3-0 after two periods, the Colorado Avalanche hung on to beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 for the final time in the regular season Monday night. The Avs end the season series with a 6-1-1 record against the Desert Dogs and extend their division point total to 62 points.
A wild and wacky game that saw a lengthy review, crazy equipment malfunctions, and big scrums to end the game were just a marginal part of the wacky matchup. Nathan MacKinnon continued his hot streak with a goal and an assist, along with Mikko Rantanen getting two goals and an assist of his own.
However, it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows for the boys in burgundy, as they struggled through the third period to barely hang on to a game that had a lot more offense from the opposition rather than the Avs.
Both teams came out of the gate flying, bring pressure back and forth to Philipp Grubauer and Ivan Prosvetov, who was getting his first career NHL start. Grubauer made some big saves when he needed to, and Rantanen had a phenomenal chance squeeze by Prosvetov and the outside of the post.
The biggest controversy came with 11:30 left, after a goalmouth scramble in front of Grubauer was ruled a goal to the Yotes after a lengthy review. There was no camera angle of the puck crossing the line (at least on TV, Toronto had a view none of us had) and it left everyone befuddled. But even after this, the Avs challenged for goaltender interference and won, keeping the game 0-0 after a review that took so much time it felt like the entire length of 2020.
This would benefit the Avs, as Samuel Girard did his trademark spin-move at the blue line, skated behind the D-men, and flipped it to Brandon Saad who snapped it over Prosvetov to make it 1-0 just a few minutes later.
The Avs would would continue to bring the pressure, with Andre Burakovsky ringing one off the iron on a 3-on-1 chance. However, it would not be good for the Avs as they missed Cale Makar for some time, and Jacob MacDonald took a shot right off the side of his face, bleeding everywhere and leaving the game.
Makar would return to the game, and the Avs would also take a short power-play into the second period up 1-0 after a wild 1st period.
After the power play was killed off, there was not as much action as compared to the first. There was still plenty of wackiness, with the net needing to be zip-tied together, Joonas Donskoi getting the puck stuck up his pants, and Rantanen doing his best Cristiano Ronaldo impression kicking the puck out of the zone after his stick broke.
Luckily for the Avs, MacDonald would return to the game with a full face shield on after that shot to the head. The good news would continue for the Avs, as on a power play, Nathan MacKinnon smoked his trademark shot past Prosvetov to make it 2-0.
After respective penalties were killed off for both sides, Rantanen would convert late after deflecting a shot off of Oliver Ekman-Larsson to make it 3-0.
Another late penalty would be taken by MacKinnon’s foe Conor Garland that the Avs would take with them into the third period.
The Avs looked to be in cruise control to start the third, just looking to hang on to their lead they had built up to this point. However, a tripping penalty by Devon Toews halfway through the third would shift the tide, as Michael Bunting would deflect a shot from the point by Ekman-Larsson past Grubauer to make 3-1.
It was not done there, though. After Rantanen was stopped on a 3-on-1, the Coyotes came back the other way on a broken play where Johan Larsson ripped one past Grubauer to make it even more interesting, a 3-2 game with 6:44 to go.
The Avalanche were hanging on for dear life, with the Yotes continuing to push the issue for the rest of the frame. With a few lucky bounces, Arizona could have easily tied it at three. Luckily, that was not the case as Rantanen sent one from his own zone down the ice into the empty net to kill the game off 4-2.
It would not end here though, as the Yotes got another power play chance after a bunch of scrums in the latter minute of the game that saw Rantanen and Ryan Graves kicked out of the rest of the game. It would not succumb to anything, as the Avs hung on to win a wacky 4-2 hockey game.
There’s no need to sugarcoat it: the Avs struggled in 5-on-5 play. There was one point in the game where the Avs did not have a single shot on goal in open play for 18 minutes or so. While the power play was ultimately the strength of the game, this is something Jared Bednar will be looking at closely before next game.
MacKinnon and Rantanen continue their dominance as of late, with Rantanen scoring his 24th and 25th goals of the season. MacKinnon is now riding a 10-game point streak. No matter the game, no matter the situation, the top line for the Avs are continuing to do what they do best.
With the trade deadline ending earlier Monday afternoon, this is the squad Joe Sakic believes can them all the way to glory. With the arrivals of Patrick Nemeth, Devan Dubnyk and Carl Soderberg, the Avs have depth where they need it most. While two of the three are not yet with the team, their impact will be felt soon when they join the team and play their first games back in an Avalanche uniform.
The Avalanche will head to St. Louis for a one-off game to face the Blues on Wednesday night. Puck drop is set for 5:30 PM MT.