After another shocking road performance the Colorado Avalanche returned to, once again, right the ship on home ice at Ball Arena. It wasn’t easy at times but though multiple penalties and momentum shifts the Avalanche prevailed 6-3 and continued to be unbeaten in games in which they score a goal in.
Both teams came out hard with good forechecking and speed but there was sloppy play as well. The new look fourth line got scored on first by New Jersey when Josh Manson fell down behind the net and couldn’t quite recover to cover Tyler Toffoli who put a sharp angle shot past Alexandar Georgiev at just 3:43 into the game.
The Avalanche would answer back before the period concluded, however. On their second power play of the frame Mikko Rantanen crafted a give-and-go with Cale Makar by passing to him from behind the net. Makar returned the favor and Rantanen put a chip shot past Vitek Vanecek at 15:50. Thus, the period ended with the score tied one apiece.
In the second period the story was all about the Avalanche third line. First, Ross Colton finished off a rebound left by a great Miles Wood rush chance and put the Avalanche up by one at 2:25. However, things devolved when the physicality picked up and Wood put a big hit on Jonas Siegenthaler which angered Dougie Hamilton who retaliated by boarding Wood, who was fine after the hit. The fireworks weren’t done as Colton put a huge hit on young Luke Hughes who went hard into the boards. But in the ensuing scrum Colton high sticked Meier and received a five minute major penalty and a game misconduct in addition to the boarding call, which gave the Devils a seven minute power play including a 5-on-3 to start.
The Devils got on the board almost immediately with the double man advantage from Timo Meier at 11:04 but once the puck was dropped on the over six-minute regular power play time remaining Wood had one more trick in his bag and 41 seconds later scored a shorthanded goal to put the Avalanche back up by one. While the Avalanche killed off much of the Devils advantage the visitors got another one in the net from Dougie Hamilton at 15:04. Yet, after all that drama the period ends with a tie score again at three apiece.
Little by little the Avalanche started to claw momentum back in the third period which culminated with a goal scored by Ryan Johansen as he picked off a poor clearing pass by the Devils and buried the puck in the net. With the lead restored then it was mission get Nathan MacKinnon a goal especially after he hit the post earlier in the period. Two minutes and nine seconds after Johansen found the twine so did MacKinnon on a great feed from Rantanen to put the Avalanche up by two.
As the home team held on to their lead to close out the rest of the game, what resembled Avalanche hockey seemed to return as they kept the pressure on. Once time wound down the Devils pulled Vanecek for the extra attacker and after half a dozen shots at the empty net Rantanen put one in the basket for his second tally of the night and the team’s sixth score of the evening. It was good to see the team handle a little adversity and still be able to come out on top in this 6-3 final score as the Avalanche remain undefeated at home.
This is the type of game the new faces on the Avalanche needed with all of Wood, Colton and Johansen scoring with the latter two at even strength. Hopefully now with the dam broken they will feel more comfortable and can chip in more consistently. The addition of some physicality is welcome too but Colton has to be smarter than to take a major penalty in those situations.
Alexandar Georgiev still didn’t look sharp for the bulk of the game with some scrambling in net and challenges tracking the puck but he shut the door when it was needed by not allowing a third period goal and picked up his seventh win on the season.
Ondrej Pavel experienced his NHL debut in this one but the constant special teams time especially in the second period limited his time on ice. Still, he came as advertised with a few good moments on the forecheck in particular on a shift with Nichushkin and Lehkonen but also was part of the lost coverage on the first Devils goal. For the seven minutes he played it was an encouraging start and something to build on for Pavel but time will tell on what he can offer at the NHL level.
Another game at home with the Seattle Kraken in town for a 7 p.m. MT puck drop on Thursday, November 9th.