The Colorado Avalanche hoped to extend their winning streak to four games against the Nashville Predators on Monday night, and just when it looked like that would happen...it didn’t. The game had some positive takeaways for the Avs, but with the way it ended, it’s hard for anyone in burgundy and blue to feel good about it.
The Avs came out strong, out-shooting (on net) Nashville around three-to-one over the opening stretch, and with just over five minutes remaining in the opening period, the Avs drew first blood on a great shorthanded play by Val Nichushkin to get Andrew Cogliano a tap-in.
Just as it looked like the Avs would take a somewhat comfortable 1-0 lead into the locker room, they started running around in their own zone in the waning seconds and left one of the NHL’s most consistent goal-scorers of the past decade wide-open.
A few minutes into the 2nd, Jeremy Lauzon fired a shot through traffic that Alexandar Georgiev never saw, and all of a sudden, the Avs were losing a game they could say they had controlled to this point.
anyways here is lauzy’s goal!! pic.twitter.com/WlsZF5qhhL— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) November 21, 2023
About five minutes later, the Avalanche cycled the puck, and Devon Toews hammered a one-timer home to tie the game.
About another five minutes later, Val Nichushkin tipped home a Cale Makar shot to give the Avs a lead they would take into the third period.
The Avs scratched and clawed their way through 19 minutes and 23 seconds of a ferocious Predators comeback, and just when it looked like they could squeak out a victory, disaster struck as they got out-worked by a desperate Nashville team.
Seconds later, the puck took a funny bounce off the end boards; Cale Makar flipped the puck in the wrong direction and blew a tire reacting to it. The puck found its way to Yakov Trenin, and the game was over.
This was a battle. The Avs did a good job limiting chances in the first and led the Predators in shots, but Nashville still had more shot attempts in the period, setting the tone for what would not be an easy night for the Avs. The beginning of the game felt somewhat comfortable, but only in the sense that the Avs were playing hard, and the Avs at their best are better than the Predators at their best. Any dip in Colorado’s play and they would not be the best team on the ice, as we saw late in the game. Depth players like Joel Kiviranta and Jonathan Drouin continued their good stretches of recent play, and right now, the Avalanche look deeper than they were last year, even while battling some injuries.
Nashville proved that they are still a dangerous team despite their lack of depth, and the Avs couldn’t let up for a second against a team that was one good bounce from taking the game away from the Avs through the first 55 minutes of the game. Special teams were a huge factor tonight, as the Avs scored their opening goal down a man and added another power-play goal later in the game. They killed a big penalty with six minutes left in the game, and just when it looked like they had earned a hard-fought win, they got a little sloppy in their own end and succumbed to Nashville’s pressure. The game-winning goal was part sloppiness by Makar and part fluke, and those who assert that you make your own luck will point to Nashville’s tenacious third period as the cause of that goal’s effect.