Another back-to-back, this time of the home-and-home variety with the Arizona Coyotes. This was where the Colorado Avalanche needed to turn the page from a tough loss in Nashville and take care of business. The end result was just that in a 4-3 shootout win but the Avalanche again played with fire and nearly got burned as a result.
A fast start is what the Avalanche have been needing and executed exactly that to begin this contest. Mikko Rantanen found a loose puck with time in the slot and didn’t miss at 4:36. Tyson Jost added to the lead at 12:03 taking advantage of more loose coverage from the Coyotes and it was quickly 2-0 for the home team.
Unfortunately the Avalanche thought the game ended there and let Arizona claw back into the contest. To close out the first period it was a hilariously bad turnover on a power play which gave Clayton Keller the first shorthanded goal of his career at 17:31.
The only score of the second period went to Arizona at 6:12 when they took advantage of poor coverage from Colorado as Johan Larsson scored from the slot. The Avalanche also had to kill off a full two minute 5-on-3 as somehow they took a too many men penalty simultaneously with Kurtis MacDermid picking up an extra two minutes for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Arizona scored just 39 seconds into start the third period and stunned the Avalanche as Shayne Gostisbehere fired the puck past Pavel Francouz. Before the game could get completely away from the Avalanche it was Andre Burakovsky who answered right back less than 30 seconds later to keep the score knotted at 3-3.
After failing to convert on two third period power plays which left the Avalanche 0/5 on the night with the man advantage it was inevitable that Arizona would get their own late game crack at winning the game with a call. The Avalanche killed that penalty and four total on the night to send the game to overtime. The five minute extra frame wasn’t enough, however, and this game needed a shootout to decide a winner. After Francouz stopped all three Arizona shots Nazem Kadri converted the lone scoring shot and sealed the two points for the Avalanche in a 4-3 final score.
In the NHL any team can win on any given night but the Avalanche really need to take hold of some games as the schedule tightens up. Though they only trailed for 29 seconds, this one still counts as another come from behind victory to add to the Avalanche’s arsenal with a 6-0-1 record in all such games since the break. Finding comfort and belief in overcoming such situations will help down the line in the playoffs but the Avalanche have to start managing the puck and games better.
Pavel Francouz wasn’t perfect in this game but he shut the door when needed including on all four penalty kills including a full two-minute 5-on-3, in overtime and in the shootout. The ball is now in Darcy Kuemper’s court to best that performance tomorrow night in the rematch. It should be an open competition to see who gets to face the Minnesota Wild in a crucial match on Monday afternoon.
As always the lineup situation is fluid for the Avalanche and while Gabe Landeskog is going to play in Arizona as Jared Bednar confirmed now Ryan Murray is out again with an upper body injury. Murray only made it through seven minutes in this contest as his future availability is definitely in question.
The second part of the series in the desert visiting the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. MT on Saturday night.