There would be no silly games this time around.
The win is Colorado’s fourth straight win after struggling throughout December and the beginning of January. The juices are flowing through this team now, and they are gaining ground which should grab everyone’s attention moving forward.
After a couple of close no goals - including a J.T. Miller deflection goal which was disallowed for a high stick - the Avs turned up the heat. Logan O’Connor looked as if he’d scored in the early minute but the puck had hit off a defender's skate in the crease and wide.
He would have another stab stopped by Collin Delia. But on the next chance, he made it work. LOC forced a turnover off a great forecheck and found Andrew Cogliano who let it rip.
It would just be the start, as the Avs pushed for a second goal in the game. This included an onslaught where Delia stopped several chances, including a MacKinnon backhander he managed to push over the bar while falling over.
The Avs would continue to have their chances in the final minute when Brock Boeser took a delay of game penalty, while William Lockwood committed a holding penalty not long after. Both infractions carried over into the second period where the Avs looked to convert on a 5-on-3.
The power play would convert quickly coming out of the gate. Valeri Nichushkin scored his first goal since playing against the New York Rangers in October at Madison Square Garden.
While the Avs couldn't convert on the continuation of the man advantage, they would get another shot after Cogliano served his second penalty of the night. Connor Garland held Sam Girard, and then soon into the power play Vancouver was called for too many men.
Yet another 5-on-3 ensued, and again the Avs made the Canucks pay. This time, it would be the red-hot Mikko Rantanen putting it in from the tightest of angles to make it three.
Nichushkin almost got his second of the game just after, and Bo Horvat nearly converted on the other end after the chance went missing. However, the other star of this Canucks team, Elias Pettersson, would take the one chance he got to put Vancouver on the board.
While it looked as if the period would end 3-1 with Colorado looking to hold on to their two-goal lead again in British Columbia, Brad Hunt would have a decisive say about the scoreline heading into the room with a bullet of a shot against his former team.
Cogliano committed his third penalty of the night which the Avs escaped again despite former Avs member Sheldon Dries hitting the post. Meanwhile, LOC was unlucky not to score as he was robbed in front by Delia.
A final Jacob MacDonald holding penalty would be killed off in what was a very uneventful third period. It worked in Colorado’s favor as it’s all they needed to do to close out this game. But, if you need any more proof it was uneventful, this was a discussion point for several minutes on TV.
The Altitude TV crew is talking about seagulls. If that’s any tell of how this third period has gone: pretty uneventful #GoAvsGo— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) January 21, 2023
Along with the fourth straight win tonight, the Avs have looked so much better. Who knew the return of Nichushkin would send Colorado on a winning streak? He was involved, especially on the power play which has flourished as of late. They added on two goals on the man advantage and look like the power play of old at the start of the season.
Meanwhile, the depth was more noticeable and part of the action as well. Specifically, the third line and Cogliano, in particular, were eventful. Cogliano scored the opening goal while also taking three penalties on the night. His linemate, O’Connor was also flying. He had several chances and was unlucky to not get on the scoresheet. While only Cogs was the beneficiary of being credited on paper, LOC in particular looked excellent and just needs to break through to have a strong second half of the season.
Speaking of the second half of the season, it has done wonders and favored the Avs in a big way. With the win, Colorado is up to 51 points. With this being only one of two games played across the league Friday night, the Avs are now tied with the Calgary Flames for the eighth seed in the West and hold the tiebreaker for the moment. Of course, with both teams playing tomorrow, this could easily change. But for now, the Avs have done what they needed to do to get back into the playoff race and still looking to get better from here.
The Avs are right back at Saturday night against the high-flying Seattle Kraken, another great chance to continue to climb up the standings against a quality team. Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. MT.