The Colorado Avalanche nearly blew another two-goal lead but managed to survive against the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Friday night.
The Avalanche were missing big names like Nathan MacKinnon, Sam Girard, and Brandon Saad but still looked very good against a lackluster LA squad. They also fell shorthanded again when Patrik Nemeth went to the dressing room injured in the second period.
Despite the result, the rest of the West was in action and none of the games fell the Avs way to help towards their push to the top of the West.
After a pregame ceremony was held for Anze Kopitar’s recent milestone of reaching 1000 points, things got off on the wrong foot for the Avs. They immediately fell 1-0 to the Kings after Philipp Grubauer gave up a big rebound for Brendan Lemieux.
However, the Avs would respond. After the Kings took a too many men penalty, Mikko Rantanen blasted one into the upper corner after many hectic chances to tie it at one and get his 30th goal of the season.
The Avs did have their chances, outshooting the Kings 18-5 through one frame, but could never capitalize. Cal Petersen was doing his thing to keep the Kings, who had nothing to play for, in the game.
A couple of late penalties for each club would be killed off and they would head into the room locked at one.
Just like the Kings, the Avs would respond early in the frame. Tyson Jost placed a shot looking for a rebound for Rantanen that ended up deflecting off Petersen and into the net to make it 2-1 to the good guys.
The Avalanche continued to dominate offensively, putting shot after shot at Petersen, making him work. Meanwhile, Grubauer did not have much to do on his end, with the Kings only registering 10 SOG through two.
The amount of offensive the Avs brought was spectacular, and it paid off for Cale Makar who made a beautiful shimmy move in the slot and beat Petersen to extend the lead to 3-1.
Not only did Makar dance and weave in the Kings zone, but he was set up by rookie Alex Newhook who registered his first point in the NHL. The Avs were all on their side of the ice, playing well defensively and moving forward from there. They were looking to keep it going for the third.
The theme of the night for the Avs was chances, chances, and more chances. The Avalanche continued to push the issue on the Kings but could not get anything into the net.
Despite a double-minor by Adrian Kempe halfway through the frame, the Avs just could not get anything Petersen, doing his best 2010’s Jonathan Quick impression in net to keep his team in the game.
It would benefit them, as late on the Avs would be their own worst enemy. A turnover in their own zone would lead to another Grubauer rebound, and a Gabriel Vilardi goal to make it 3-2 with 2:34 left.
The Kings would pull Petersen and push for the tying goal but never got a clear look at the net, seeing the Avs win in their house 3-2.
The Avs best player of the night was Makar. He was outstanding, including his phenomenal shimmy move goal in the second period that would be the game-winning goal. He becomes the first defender in Avalanche history to have 40+ points in his first two seasons and only getting better.
Besides Makar, Jost, Newhook and Conor Timmins were also very good. Jost got the second goal of the night, Newhook got his first NHL point, and Timmins’ time is coming. With big names like MacKinnon out tonight and Bednar wanting to possibly rest other players before the playoffs, we’re getting a good look at the future of this club while still seeing the usual names and faces on the ice as well.
With the Minnesota Wild and Vegas Golden Knights each coming back from behind to win their respective games on Friday night, the Western Division playoff teams are set. The St. Louis Blues, despite blowing a three-goal lead in Vegas, clinched the final playoff spot in the West. While the final standings are nowhere near set in stone, the Avs will look to win Saturday night and set up a monstrous matchup in Vegas on Monday night.
The Avalanche will stay in LA to face the Kings once again in 24 hours time. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. MT.