In search of points any way they can come, the Colorado Avalanche hosted the New York Rangers. And one point the Avalanche did find as they played a much more encouraging game and lost in a shootout by a 2-1 final score to New York.
Everything went just about right for the Avalanche in the first period. Val Nichushkin took the ice and made an instant impact. He eventually screened Igor Shesterkin for the game’s first goal as Mikko Rantanen scored his 16th of the season at 14:38. There were no penalties called and Colorado owned an edge in shots 12-8 as they took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period was also a penalty-free affair but it was the Rangers who scored the lone goal of the period. The trailer was left uncovered on a rush and Braden Schneider hammered the puck left on a tee to even the score at 4:56. The score remained tied at one a piece after 40 minutes of play.
In the third period both teams each received a power play but could not convert. The Avalanche looked like a much more cohesive and skilled group but could not find the go-ahead goal despite numerous chances and 37 shots on goal. They held the Rangers off the board as well so Colorado earned a valuable standings point and the game headed to overtime.
The Avalanche had the better chances in the 3-on-3 but beyond Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar (Alex Newhook wasn’t utilized) the lack of dynamic skill on the ice didn’t lead to a goal to seal the victory and a shootout would decide the game.
Jared Bednar chose to go with JT Compher in his second career attempt and did not find the same magic that Evan Rodrigues did in the other shootout against the Rangers. After Rantanen missed his chance as well it was an uphill battle to get the extra point especially when Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin were up to the task and scored on their attempts. A hard-fought and entertaining game went to the Rangers, 2-1 final score.
Even just getting Nichushkin back rejuvenated a reeling Avalanche team and was evident right from puck drop. Though he was rusty and faded a bit the screen he provided on the first goal showed how much more dangerous the offense was with him back. Overall the team executed noticeably better and used their speed to push the pace on New York. With even more reinforcements coming there should be more improvement as well.
The third line of Charles Hudon, Ben Meyers and Jean-Luc Foudy had a great game where they created a handful of glorious scoring chances and put up a strong analytic performance as they controlled play with 85% expected goals when they were on the ice. Foudy in particular played 14 minutes and made something happen every time he touched the puck continuing what has been a eye-opening NHL debut for him.
Brad Hunt was the newest experiment from the Colorado Eagles as he swapped out on the back end for Jacob MacDonald but wasn’t much of a factor in the 10 minutes he played. MacDonald had a few shifts on the fourth line as a forward but was even less effective in his four minutes of ice time. As a result Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Sam Girard each played over 25 minutes in this contest.
A quick trip to visit the St. Louis Blues for a Sunday matinee is at 1 p.m. MT on ESPN.