The Colorado Avalanche were nowhere near good enough tonight. Despite coming back once again a handful of times, the Nashville Predators got the best of them 5-4 in OT. They still take a point out of Tuesday’s result, but playing in Nashville continues to be the Avs’s kryptonite.
While the Avs were valiant to get back into it, it would end up being the referees that played their hand in deciding the game. After missing several calls on the Avs in the third period, they called the Avs incorrectly twice in the final five minutes including OT in infuriating style.
Things got off on the wrong foot right from the get-go. Tanner Jeannot got a puck through Darcy Kuemper that went off the post and barely across the line to make it 1-0.
After a couple of missed power play opportunities for the Avs, it didn’t look like it was going to be any better for the night. Jusse Saros was standing tall and making some big saves and his defense was doing well in front of him as well.
Just as it seemed like it was only going to be a one-goal deficit heading into the break, Luke Kunin broke in the slot and at the hash marks threw another one through Kuemper to double the lead in the last minute of the period.
After killing off an early power play thanks to a couple of good saves by Kuemper, the Avs looked as if they could not get anything going at all. It was headed towards one of those nights where nothing would find the twine.
However, Nicolas Aube-Kubel said otherwise. He collected the rebound after a Nazem Kadri shot and put it past Saros into a gaping net. Just like that, the Avs had momentum in this 2-1 game.
This momentum carried its way to Andre Burakovsky, whose initial slap shot hurt Mark Borowiecki. He went down injured, as Burakovsky picked up the puck and sniped it into the top corner past Saros to tie it at two.
The referees let play continue, to which some Nashville fans may say was incorrect. However, it’s not the first time we’ve seen it though. The Vancouver Canucks scored after Matt Calvert was struck in the head and bleeding a couple of years ago.
The Avs were looking much better and looked to be heading into the third level and all to play for. However, J.T. Compher gave up a bad turnover which found its way to Kunin to steer in for his second of the game and a late 3-2 lead heading into the break.
The Avs came out on the front foot in the frame, getting stopped by Saros on a goalmouth scramble, a wraparound attempt by Logan O’Connor, and a cross ice pass to Tyson Jost which he robbed.
However, after Marcus Johansen took tripping and roughing penalties, Nathan MacKinnon set himself up in his spot on the left circle and bulleted one past Saros to draw even at three.
The Avs would bite themselves in the foot though. Mikko Rantanen took a four minute high sticking penalty where former Avs star Matt Duchene picked up a rebound from Kuemper to get the lead back 4-3.
After killing off the last two minutes of the power play, the Avs needed something special to get back into it yet again. Who else would pull out something magical other than Cale Makar? He walked to the left circle and pinpointed one in the top right corner to bring it level yet again at four with this beautiful shot and yet another highlight reel goal.
The referees then decided they needed to get into the action, missing three calls on Rantanen, Kadri, and Rantanen again. The one penalty they called in the last two minutes was on the Avs for questionably too many men on the ice. With seven seconds left in the penalty, the Avs were able to force OT and at least get a point out of Nashville.
After the power play was killed off and a couple of chances 4-on-4 for the Avs, there was back and forth action. Kuemper made some huge saves after MacKinnon blew his tire and was caught in the Nashville zone, along with Saros on a Kadri breakaway.
The Avs took yet another too many men on the ice, which the referees got wrong. The Avs were called when in their own zone on a line change for one guy coming off the ice while the Preds had five guys on the ice at the exact same time. It would be the killer, as Duchene won it 5-4.
There were so many storylines to come out of tonight. The slow starts for the Avs continued, thanks to a pretty lackluster performance from Kuemper which they couldn’t ultimately come back from. He has been very inconsistent and it cost them tonight early on despite getting a little better as the game went on. He has to be feeling the pressure now from Pavel Francouz for the starting job, as Frankie has been good and consistent when called upon. In terms of the slow starts, the Avs need to figure out how to put together a full 60 minutes rather than clawing back from behind.
Aube-Kubel is heating up at the moment as well. He’s now got three goals in his last two games, and five points in his last three games including a goal and an assist tonight. The big name stars continued to shine as well in the loss, with Kadri becoming the leader of assists in the NHL with 35 dishes to his name. Makar’s goal also made him the leading goalscorer of all defensemen in the league with 16.
On a more serious note, before the game it was announced that Bowen Byram was taking a leave of absence for an unknown period of time for “personal reasons” Jared Bednar said to the press after the game. Whether this is concussion-related, Byram family-related or something completely unrelated, there is no need for speculation and digging of such info at the moment. We can only hope that he is doing okay, taking care of himself and able to find some good spirits while he is away. We’re all with you, Bo.
Bo Byram has left the Avs for personal reasons. No need to speculate why, let’s just hope the young kid is doing okay ❤️ #GoAvsGo— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) January 12, 2022
The Avs have another back-to-back series to look forward to this weekend, with both games against the Arizona Coyotes. The first of two against the Yotes is Friday at home; puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. MT.