As the Colorado Avalanche continue to deal with injuries a tough task came to town in the Carolina Hurricanes. While it was difficult to get any kind of sustained possession going the Avalanche showed up on the scoreboard and earned a decisive 4-1 win.
Despite the missing personnel this game started with great pace at 5v5 with few whistles and good physical play. The Hurricanes don’t like to stay out of the box so the Avalanche received several power plays and Cale Makar cashed in on one of them at 14:29 on a fluke play where the puck bounced off the glass behind Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta and then off his back and into the net.
Makar wasn’t done in the first frame as he scored another goal on a delayed penalty at 17:51. Mikko Rantanen threw a big hit on Calvin de Haan which distracted Carolina into retaliation while Makar snuck in and fired a laser beam past Raanta. The score was 2-0 Avalanche after 20 minutes of play.
The second period was played a lot in the neutral zone and was fairly low event except for the Avalanche having to kill a couple penalties. Carolina would get one goal back, however, by the end of the period as they took advantage of the Avalanche pinching down low and scored on a 2-on-1 with Jordan Staal converting at 13:55.
As the game got a bit tense to start the final 20 minutes of play the home team scored a much-needed insurance goal at 4:17. After the Avalanche got stuck in their own zone for a lengthy shift they turned a quick possession into a 2-on-1 where Rantanen hit Nathan MacKinnon with the pass. Another stroke of good fortune occurred as the puck deflected off of Raanta’s stick and into the net. At that point Carolina couldn’t muster much offensive danger and the Avalanche held on to their two-goal lead. An empty net goal from Rantanen sealed the 4-1 final score and gave him a four point night.
The injury parade just won’t stop as Kurtis MacDermid was lost early on in the first period after taking a hit and did not return to the game with a lower body injury. Sampo Ranta also appeared to get cut on the chin late in the game and also did not return. There wasn’t much update from Bednar on either one.
Pavel Francouz was sharp early and didn’t look rusty after weeks of not playing. He was needed early as Carolina got the bulk of their better scoring chances in the first period. As the game evolved into a chess match of Carolina’s forecheck pressure and Colorado disrupting all of their plays, Francouz went stretches where he didn’t see much action but still had a great night in net saving 24 of 25 shots to earn his first win on the season.
Colorado’s stars stepped up when needed in this one as Makar, MacKinnon and Rantanen made the difference on the scoreboard. It’s not often the Avalanche are held to just 18 shot attempts at 5v5 and is not a recipe for sustained success but it worked in a game like this tonight. The rematch next week in Carolina will be very interesting.
The concluding game of the homestand against the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 14th.