To conclude the four-game road trip the Colorado Avalanche had one final stop in Motor City to visit the Detroit Red Wings. This game looked a lot closer to the Avalanche hockey we know and love as the visitors put in a complete team effort and walked away with a 5-2 win to bring home to Colorado.
A much better start was required to erase the bad taste from the debacle in Boston and that exactly what the Avalanche provided just over one minute into the game. Cale Makar danced around a Red Wing on the way to the net and created a rebound which Gabe Landeskog deposited into the net to get the game’s first score.
Another scramble play at 11:47 got the Avalanche on the board for the second time in the period as Tyson Jost was the eventual recipient for his sixth goal of the season. The teams traded power plays but they score remained 2-0 Colorado after 20 minutes.
Detroit found a little bit of life in the second frame. First on a power play they hit the crossbar behind Pavel Francouz but the puck dropped straight down on the goal line and did not count. The Red Wings finally got their goal in the period, however, after Filip Zadina was left wide open on a rebound chance at 11:35.
Sensing control start to slip away the Avalanche restored their two-goal cushion with little over a minute left in the period as Nazem Kadri deflected a shot from Mikko Rantanen. Kadri had gone a little cold lately but found just the right time to get back on the scoresheet.
The third period began with an Avalanche power play and it was important that they find the dagger early to put the game to bed. That did not happen on the man advantage but shortly thereafter Val Nichushkin scored the essential fourth goal at 2:11 on a great move and finish at the net front.
Detroit would find bursts of energy and looked dangerous at times. They made things a little interesting with their second tally of the night from Robby Fabbri on the power play to cut the Avalanche lead back to two at 9:38. Detroit would then pull netminder Thomas Greiss with three minutes to go and had several looks but were not able to get another puck past Pavel Francouz. Gabe Landeskog turned on the jets and gave every ounce of hustle to secure the empty net goal after the team failed several times and that’s how the Avalanche arrived at a 5-2 victory to conclude their road trip.
With Nathan MacKinnon out this contest nursing a nagging lower body injury the top players were all tasked with setting the tone and leading the way to victory, each of Gabe Landeskog, Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen did just that. The goal output was crucial from the first two but Rantanen picked up two assists of his own. Rantanen is also the one who has been quietly picking up top center duties with MacKinnon out of lineup and hasn’t missed a beat and still leads the team in goals with 26.
Conversely, Andre Burakovsky just can’t buy a goal right now as he hasn’t scored in his last 17 games. He had a chance at the empty net but the puck skipped off the right post. Burakovsky did pick up a primary assist on Nichushkin’s goal with a great cross-ice pass so it wasn’t all for nothing. He filled in MacKinnon’s spot on the top line at times this evening but that still didn’t get him going. It will come eventually for the streaky goal scorer but it’s clear he doesn’t have the confidence with the puck right now.
Back at home for another back-to-back starting with the visiting Winnipeg Jets at 7pm MT on Friday, February 25th.