The Colorado Avalanche had some rough times against the Chicago Blackhawks but came out victorious 4-3 on Tuesday night. The Avs were up 2-0 thanks to a great first period, but then gave up three unanswered goals and under threat of losing two points on the road.
Goals from the defense of Erik Johnson and Cale Makar lead the Avs in the offensive zone, specifically the ridiculous game-winning goal from Makar. You have to see it to believe it at the end of the recap.
After a clunky start, Gabriel Landeskog and Connor Murphy dropped the gloves for payback from Landeskog’s hit on Kirby Dach on opening night. The Avs took some time to get going, consistently missing the net.
Finally, Johnson found himself at the point with the puck. He wristed it towards the net through traffic, leaving Marc-Andre Fleury blind and rang it off the crossbar and it to make it 1-0.
Fleury would come up big in this period, making a nice toe save on Mikko Rantanen after he had a one timer from the right circle on the power play. But he would be beat as Alex Newhook worked his way in front with some silky moves and backhanded one into the top of the net to double the lead.
It was all Avalanche, as Rantanen had a breakaway squandered by a hooking penalty that sent Seth Jones slipping as his ankles were broken. Fleury came up huge once again, robbing Tyson Jost down low with an incredible glove save on the goal line.
Johnson would take a late interference penalty that kept his Avs shorthanded to start the second period.
After the penalty on Johnson was killed off, the Blackhawks came with some force in the period. They were getting more and more chances on Darcy Kuemper who had been quiet in the first. Johnathan Toews would eventually put away a rebound right in the blue to cut the score it in half.
The Avs could not get much going forward at all, losing the puck in neutral zone often and giving Chicago chances. The defense was doing good moving it forward when they could but also were the ones to blame who turned over the puck.
Kuemper eventually came up big late on. He made a couple of big saves late on, including a breakaway from Patrick Kane in the dying seconds of the frame. The shots were 22-21 Hawks, but the Avs netminder was the reason they weren’t tied at two heading into the third.
After MacKinnon threw an early hit that was questionably called a penalty, the Avs then threw the puck over the glass and gave Chicago a 5-on-3 chance to tie it up. They did just that through a tic-tac-toe goal from Alex DeBrincat.
Just 40 seconds later, DeBrincat found himself in the slot in a prime scoring position and smoked one past Kuemper. Just like that, the Avs had given up three unanswered and were behind 3-2.
MacKinnon had some chances on Fleury, getting stopped coming in on his own and rang one off the crossbar. The Avs got away with a major high sticking penalty and it would come into play later, as Johnson got his second goal of the game sneaking it in past Fleury through traffic to tie it at three.
Just like last game for the Avs, this one was going to go down to the wire. Tied up at three each, MacKinnon came back on a 2-on-1 and made a great defensive play on Dach. It would take efforts like this for the Avs to come out of this game with two points.
MacKinnon had another shot off the post late in the period. Toews had a dying second breakaway shot that was remarkably stopped by Kuemper. Therefore, each team would take a point with them as the deciding goal was going to be found beyond regulation.
Makar, MacKinnon, and O’Connor each had chances that were stopped by Fleury and the post respectively. On the other end, Toews finessed his way past two defenders and Kuemper but only managed to find the post.
The best goal of the night was the last one, as Makar worked his way behind the net. On the side boards, he cut on a dime and lost Dach. He slid towards Fleury and used his hands marvelously and got Fleury to bite and put it short-side, backhand into the top of the net to win it for the Avs in emphatic fashion 4-3.
The Avs were nowhere near good enough tonight despite the win. They gave up the puck too much in the neutral zone and found themselves clogged in the second period, and first half of the third. Defensively wasn’t great either, despite the defense leading the offense on the night.
Kuemper had the best performance in an Avs jersey tonight in my opinion. When the Avs were still battling ahead in the second, he made some massive saves to keep the lead. When they went behind, Kuemper stopped them and made some critical saves at both the end of the second and third period. He earned the Avs two points tonight.
The Avs are now 12-0 after leading at the end of the first period. That record was under threat after the performance tonight, but Makar came to the rescue in spectacular fashion. The overtime goal he produced will be one for the highlight reels and undoubtedly one of the goals, if not, the goal of the season.
The Avs return home for a three game home stand. This includes two straight Canadian teams, with the first being the Division rival Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. MT.