After a whirlwind couple of days for the front office ahead of the trade deadline it was time to get back to regularly scheduled programming with the task at hand on the ice which was was the first in a pair of games in the Golden State as the Colorado Avalanche met up with the LA Kings.
The first power play in the game looked like it might become a fruitless endeavor but Mikko Rantanen crafted a brilliant play from behind the net to a wide open Val Nichushkin at the net front at 6:36 to take the lead. The score was Nichushkin’s 15th on the year in a career high mark for him. Rantanen is exceptional passing from that area, which hopefully becomes a new wrinkle on the man advantage.
The second period was a swift back-and-forth bit of action but amazingly the power play came through again to put the Avalanche up by two. JT Compher executed the one play he excels at and that is the tip play from the slot at 19:29 off of a Cale Makar shot. The unit had just given up a good shorthanded chance to Anne Kopitar but were able to get that much-needed second goal on the board.
These aren’t the grind it out Kings of yesteryear and they continued to push the pace in the third period as they had done all game but it was the Avalanche who found paydirt at 5:03. Mikko Rantanen stole the puck in the neutral zone and crafted a perfect give-and-go with Andre Burakovsky and then Rantanen finished it off with a stellar shot.
The Avalanche had the game firmly in the bag at this point but almost let the Kings back in with a little life as it appeared Christian Wolanin had scored. The Avalanche challenged for offside and won partly due to new defenseman Josh Manson’s disruption of the Kings player on entry to the offensive zone.
As the rest of the game closed out the Avalanche put on a good defensive front giving up only 23 total shots on goal as Darcy Kuemper earned his fifth shutout of the season in a 3-0 final score.
Newly acquired Josh Manson was in the lineup and looked to be a good fit right away. He was moving the puck well and was quick to fire on a couple shots with one on goal. As the game wore on he looked to run out of gas a little, which is understandable due to the crazy last 24 hours for him. Manson finished with 18:41 time on ice, was a plus one and led the team with 10 hits in a very nice debut with surely more good to come.
After a few bad habits started to creep back in their game last week the Avalanche have now executed two shutouts back-to-back in impressive fashion against two very good playoff teams. The fact that Gabe Landeskog, Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram are missing from the lineup and that the Avalanche have done this while dressing an incomplete lineup with only 17 skaters makes it even more remarkable.
After a couple days off the second game of the road trip commences at the San Jose Sharks once again late at 8:30pm MT on Thursday, March 17th.