To conclude their most recent back-to-back the Colorado Avalanche headed home to meet the awaiting Edmonton Oilers for another tough battle. While the exhaustion was clearly evident at times the Avalanche stuck with it and won this thrilling game 6-5 in overtime.
It was an eventful first period for Edmonton’s Warren Foegele who took two consecutive minor penalties and then eventually scored the game’s first goal at 15:08 after taking advantage of a coverage break down. In total the Avalanche received three power plays but couldn’t convert as the second unit got the bulk of the best opportunities in limited minutes. Colorado held the 15-11 shot advantage after the first frame but Edmonton had the 1-0 lead.
The second period is where it really started to show that the Avalanche had played a game less than 24 hours prior. Foegele would deposit his second goal of the contest at just 1:14. Then the Avalanche received the super critical fourth power play and again did nothing with it which wasn’t surprising when Leon Draisaitl took advantage for a score at 7:37 soon after.
Nathan MacKinnon made it a game again less than a minute later and when Val Nichushkin banked the puck off of an Oilers defender at 12:48 the glimmer of hope appeared again down only one at that time. That was unfortunately short-lived as the home team couldn’t close out the period without giving up another goal to Tyson Barrie at 17:42 after several absolutely lethargic shifts. The Oilers held a 4-2 lead at that point and the Avalanche would have to muster a lot of effort and execution to turn this game around.
Again, MacKinnon briefly made the game interesting again with a goal just 26 seconds into the third period on a fantastic no-look feed from Josh Manson but the comeback didn’t last long. The Oilers finally received their first power play of the game and while it was successfully killed the Avalanche just decided to give up a goal to Mattias Janmark at 3:58 and the two goal deficit was restored but that would be Edmonton’s final tally.
The magic started when Bowen Byram drove the net and put a shot on Jack Campbell which landed right at the post. Logan O’Connor followed it up and jammed the puck in before Campbell could secure it. With a little more than half a period left there was a chance again if the Avalanche couldn’t give up more goals.
While it was difficult for Colorado to create momentum after their goals they at least didn’t give another goal up before Artturi Lehkonen did what he does best and scored a clutch tip goal off of a JT Compher shot to tie the game at 15:48 and the game headed to overtime deadlocked in a 5-5 tie.
The Avalanche possessed the puck for the bulk of the extra frame but only created a couple scoring chances. Off of a face-off Mikko Rantanen finally converted as he out-waited Campbell and threw the puck into the corner of the net from a sharpe angle. 6-5 Avalanche victory and the two important standings points secured.
The other story of the day other than the game was the injury updates the national ESPN crew were able to extract from the Avalanche organization. Gabe Landeskog is back in town after arriving the other day and is expected to begin skating tomorrow. Erik Johnson’s lower body injury was confirmed as a broken ankle but no timetable has been revealed, although it’s a big question if he can return before the playoffs. In more concerning news, Cale Makar missed this contest after taking another blow to the head in his previous game but Jared Bednar would not confirm a head injury as his team-reported upper body injury.
In Makar’s absence both Byram and Samuel Girard stepped up big time to bring the game to victory. Girard chipped in two assists in addition to Byram’s critical helper in the third period. Both played over 24 minutes, put multiple shots on goal and blocked two shots. It was team effort to make up the deficits which were created but these two really did a lot of heavy lifting in the game.
As usual the Avalanche were able to contain Connor McDavid, who didn’t have a point until Edmonton scored their fifth goal of the afternoon and ended up a -2. The aforementioned Byram and Girard defended him well in addition to the forwards who were mindful in covering him. Despite a lot of break downs in coverage in this game the Avalanche were able to execute this defensive plan very well.
Four days off and then the start of yet another back-to-back as the Avalanche travel to meet the Winnipeg Jets at 6 p.m. MT on Friday, February 24th.