Following a night to forget in Winnipeg the Colorado Avalanche continued on with their road trip to face a tired team in the Buffalo Sabres coming into the second half of a back-to-back. After withstanding 60 minutes of penalty-filled chaos the Avalanche came out on top with a 6-4 victory.
It’s never a good sign when the opposition gets either a power play or a goal in the first or last minute of the period and both happened in this first frame. The Avalanche survived that first penalty kill and even got on the board first via their own power play at 8:48 when JT Compher made a move to the crease and the puck deflected off of the stick of a Sabres player and into the back of the net.
That lead would not last long, however, as the fourth line let an excellent rush team in Buffalo down the ice and JJ Peterka converted for their opening score at 10:19. The Avalanche look a last minute penalty and Tage Thompson scored with 11 seconds left in the period to put the Sabres up 2-1 after 20 minutes of play,
It took a hit on Jean-Luc Foudy and a spirited retaliation by the rookie to shake out some of the cobwebs in the second period. From that point on the Avalanche had more energy and eventually drew a 5-on-3. It took a few chances but the goals started dropping first from MacKinnon at 9:00 with the two-man advantage and then Artturi Lehkonen 49 seconds later before the second penalty expired.
The Avalanche found their stride and MacKinnon scored a classic “Nate Dogg” goal at 11:53 on a glorious feed from Cale Makar. With the score at 4-2 it felt like the Avalanche found control again. Unfortunately the Sabres just as quickly earned their own 5-on-3 on which Dylan Cozens found the twine at 14:05 but the Avalanche at least killed the remainder of the penalty to preserve the lead.
Before the frame expired JT Compher scored his second of the night at 17:16 on a great chance in the slot to give the Avalanche a very important insurance goal and they ended the second period up 5-3.
The importance of that last score was felt almost immediately, seven seconds to be exact, as the Sabres opened the third period with an Alex Tuch goal off of a set faceoff play where he beat everyone down the ice to a puck rebounded off the boards.
As the rest of the game unfolded each team received two power plays in the third period, which neither converted on, to bring the official total number of power play opportunities in this game to 13. The Avalanche did their best to hold on to the one goal lead and then finally punctuated their victory with a Mikko Rantanen empty net goal at 19:25 for the 6-4 final score.
All the penalties severely limited the minutes of the third and fourth lines so Jean-Luc Foudy didn’t see the ice much after the first period but it wasn’t because he didn’t earn it. Jared Bednar did manage to put Foudy on the second power play unit at times, too. Some highlights in just over seven minutes of play include feathering a pass to Alex Newhook through a Sabres defender on the rush and a great backcheck to stop a Sabres forward one-on-one. It has been a very encouraging showing for Foudy thus far.
Nathan MacKinnon played 25 minutes in this contest and was rewarded with a five-point night for his efforts. It was good to see him find the back of the net a couple times and also factor into the bulk of the team’s goal.
It wasn’t mentioned postgame but Josh Manson did not play the entirety of the third period. Despite taking the opening penalty of the game nothing else would suggest a benching. So, something to watch in the coming days and hopefully more injuries don’t impact an already thin roster with no extra bodies on this road trip.
The road trip continues for a very big matchup in Boston on Saturday, December 3rd at 5 p.m. MT.