What just happened?
It’s safe to ask, as a 10-goal affair isn’t the most normal thing in the NHL. But between two powerful teams, the Colorado Avalanche would score six of those 10 in a 6-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
A possible preview of the Stanley Cup Final in June was fun to watch for all involved. It felt like a roller coaster ride, or an Avalanche tumbling down the mountain. Be ready, there’s a lot to catch up on here.
The first period would be a little slow. Things wouldn’t happen until almost midway through when Nathan MacKinnon was boarded, and Cale Makar would stand up for him with some pushing and shoving. Regardless, their team wouldn’t get on the board on the power play.
MacKinnon would be caught up in the rest of the period though. After a tripping call went missed by him when he was tripped up, he would then be called for cross-checking at the other end. It led to a successful kill, but just seconds later Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored right in front to take the lead.
But, in the final seconds, the Avs would rebound and not go into the room scoreless. Ryan Johansen scored off his skate when MacKinnon pulled off this ridiculous move and tied it up in the final seconds.
If you thought the first period was quiet and slow, lucky for you the second period was far from it.
It started with another customary Bowen Byram penalty for tripping. But fear not, the Avalanche scored shorthanded for the third game in a row. Any guesses on who it might’ve been? He now ties Joe Sakic for the franchise record of shorthanded goals in a row and joins NHL history by scoring his first three goals shorthanded in a season.
It did get scary for Avs fans though after this. It started with another missed call on MacKinnon as he was high-sticked this time. Makar would then be called for interference when Brent Burns would finally break through the Avs PK unit for the first time this season. Just 1:25 later, Michael Bunting would put home a rebound to make it 3-2. It was all Canes and they had Alexandar Georgiev to thank for keeping it close at the moment.
Before you knew it, the Avs turned it around with some sort of magic charm from Jared Bednar. Prepare yourselves for the onslaught in which the second period ended.
First: Frederik Olofsson notched his first in an Avs jersey and his second career NHL goal. It came with this marvelous move from the blue line and getting it through Pyotr Kochetkov to tie it up at three.
Mikko Rantanen would then follow suit with a shot off the post, nearly giving Colorado the lead back. But they didn’t have to wait for long as a Brady Skjei interference penalty would be capitalized on by Artturi Lehkonen.
Just afterward, MacKinnon wanted to get in on the goal-scoring action and did just so to make it a 5-3 game. After a Lehkonen penalty would be killed off, Rantanen would actually score this time on the power play and end the period with a wild 6-3 lead for his team.
The period started off after Josh Manson accidentally kneed Bunting, which injured him. But, he was able to keep going. It would be fortunate as he helped kill off part of a Jordan Staal hooking penalty.
Another customary Byram penalty for interference would be killed off before MacKinnon nearly went coast-to-coast for an early contender for goal of the year would be stopped by Kochetkov. But, it would hurt the Avs since he didn’t score, as Jaccob Slavin put home a slapshot to close within two.
Carolina would pull Kochetkov trying to find another to make it interesting. But, it came to no avail and the Avalanche couldn’t find the empty net. It didn’t matter in the end, as Colorado would end up 5-0-0 at the end of the night.
This game was absolute chaos. The second period in particular was wild, with both teams combining for eight goals. It was 1-1, and Carolina was outshooting the Avs 15-3 in the period as a whole when they were forcing the issue when they had the lead. But, then the Avalanche roared back and took control from there, but still barely outshot the Canes 28-27.
Once again, the stars did their part especially when they were down and needed to. This included Johansen and MacKinnon recording two points and Lehkonen with three. LOC also had two points as he made history scoring three straight shorthanded goals in three games. Part of the scoring onslaught came from the switches Bednar made with the lines, with Tomas Tatar and Lehkonen rotating between the first and second line, while Drouin continued to look good on the third line despite not recording a point.
Some things to work on include keeping the foot on the gas consistently and not just providing an onslaught like they did in the second period. The same goes for penalties on Byram in particular, as he now has seven penalties in five games. A lot of people saw this as a possible preview of the Stanley Cup Final in June. Could you imagine up to seven games of something similar to what we saw Saturday night?
The Avalanche hit the road once again, this time visiting the other coast. They will be looking for an NHL-record 15th straight regular-season road win. It starts on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders with puck drop at 6:00 p.m. MT.