Following a quick trip to Canada for their latest Saturday night embarrassment the NHL made the Colorado Avalanche travel all the way back home for the second half of this back-to-back set of games. The San Jose Sharks, who have been playing better lately and no longer at the bottom of the league, were waiting for the game in Denver. After a few quick scores in the first period the Avalanche cruised to a 6-2 victory to take the Central Division lead back.
To erase the bad taste of last night’s game in Winnipeg the Avalanche needed to get out to a fast start and did just that with the help of a five minute major courtesy of Jacob MacDonald boarding penalty on Sam Malinski. He would leave the game for most of the first period but Malinski did return. It took nearly the entire five minutes for the Avalanche to cash in but they finally did at 7:18 when Val Nichushkin deflected a great pass from Jonathan Drouin.
Then the home team got another power play and Mikko Rantanen scored his 15th goal of the season at 12:15. To complete the first period Miles Wood got an even strength goal on another fantastic passing play started by Drouin and also Ross Colton at 18:20. Finally a comfortable lead of 3-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Not long into the second period the Avalanche padded their lead as Nathan MacKinnon found a loose rebound after his shot hit the post at 3:44. The Sharks would get one back when Tomas Hertl found pay dirt on their own power play but the lead was still comfortable after the first 40 minutes of the game had elapsed.
By the third period this game was pretty sleepy but after a flurry of momentum including a big hit from Bowen Byram it was Ryan Johansen who got his first goal since November at 9:01 to restore their four-goal lead. Hertl would score another on the power play late in the third period but the game was all but over at that point. Yet for some reason the Sharks pulled Makenzie Blackwood with five minutes to go and almost immediately MacKinnon deposited his second goal of the game into the empty net and the 6-2 final score. With a four point night MacKinnon passed Milan Hejduk for fourth in franchise scoring.
Alexandar Georgiev got the start after a bunch of rest this week and responded well only giving up two goals on the power play and made 26 saves in the process. Hopefully a low-stress win gets him back on track to grab a few more wins before the holidays.
The only other lineup change was Kurtis MacDermid on the fourth line and Ben Meyers taking the night off. The line of Drouin-Colton-Wood was reunited as a result and paid dividends. This might be a line to stick with as the team is trying to find new combinations following Tomas Tatar’s departure.
Cale Makar was held out of this game as well dealing with the latest tweak to his chronic lower body injury. No timetable has been given on when he will feel well enough to play again. It is becoming a growing concern for the Avalanche as Makar is clearly trying to make it through the season with this ailment which also doesn’t seem to respond a whole lot to resting.
Another quick road trip, this time to Chicago to take on the Bedards at 6:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday, December 19th.