The Colorado Avalanche had themselves a nice trip to Southern California. Thursday night they took advantage of the Los Angeles Kings in their own arena in a 4-1 win. It was nowhere near pretty or a dominant Avalanche performance we all know and love, but it was enough to get the two points.
They take four points out of four from California and continue to feast on the California clubs dating back to last sesaon. Even with the competitiveness from the teams in the Pacific better than what it was last season, it still makes every point important for the Avs.
The first period looked somewhat similar to Wednesday nights game in Anaheim - the Avalanche did not come out of the gates flying offensively. It would be the Kings who were pressuring Darcy Kuemper who was up to the task.
The Avs first real good offensive zone time came on the power play as Carl Grundstrom hooked Nicolas Aube-Kubel. It lead to a Nathan MacKinnon shot from the point that found the stick of Mikko Rantanen who deflected it off the ice and behind Jonathan Quick for the lead.
The Avs did commit a few penalties though as MacKinnon and Logan O’Connor both had to sit in the box. The penalty kill was up to the task though, holding their 1-0 lead going into the intermission.
A couple of young guns had chances, with Quinton Byfield in his season debut getting robbed of his first career NHL goal by Kuemper. Alex Newhook couldn’t convert on a 2-on-1 either. Another young gun though would give the Avs a 2-1 lead. It would be Kiefer Sherwood who smoked home a turned over puck from Brendan Lemieux.
The Kings though continued to pepper Kuemper with shots and keep the Avs out of the offensive zone. It was only a matter of time until one of these pucks surely found its way into the net behind Kuemper.
Off of a rare mistake by Devon Toews who threw it over the glass, Anze Kopitar parked himself in the crease and after a couple of saves and rebounds from Kuemper put the puck into an empty net to cut the deficit in half.
The Avs did not have many chances at all, consistently being outplayed. Aube-Kubel had a chance all by himself in front of the net that he shot wide, as did Rantanen. At the end of the period, the Avs found themselves outshot 34-15 clinging onto to their one goal advantage.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel was the story of the third period. On a breakaway with Alex Newhook, he committed a bad high-sticking penalty to give the Avs to kill off. But as the penalty was killed, Aube-Kubel found himself on the breakaway and put it past Quick to make it 3-1.
The Avs were able to close it out from here and hold the Kings ransom. After killing off a Rantanen tripping penalty, the Avs had cleaned things up offensively and defensively. With 8:07 left, they’d taken their shot tally to 24 and held the Kings to just four shots in the third with their total of 38.
The Kings would pull Quick to try and force another one past Kuemper, but it would end up being Toews who would shoot it into an empty net from his own zone to make the win official, 4-1.
The first two periods of this game did not go in any favor of the Avs. They were outshot, outplayed and only had Kuemper to thank for their leads. Being outshot 28-8 halfway through the game usually doesn’t win you hockey games. They were able to pull it out though with a better overall performance in the third period.
In Tyson Jost’s 300th game, he was without teammate Valeri Nichushkin who didn’t test out of COVID Protocol to play tonight. He may return Saturday night depending on his test status. His replacement in the lineup in Sherwood did score a nice goal for his seventh career goal. He may be aa pick for the future Avalanche line up consistently if injuries and absences persist.
The Avalanche as a team continue to make history. They turn their point streak to 11 games straight all from the resumption of their season earlier this month. They have the best start to the season in franchise history with a record of 27-8-3 and continue to extend their lead in the Central Division. If you were doubting this team in November, might want to track back on those doubts with this run in performance.
The Avalanche return to home to welcome the Stanley Cup finalist Montreal Canadiens for a dinner time puck drop Saturday night. The Canadiens have been struggling and the Avs will look to take advantage with a 5:00 p.m. puck drop.