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Recap: Avalanche outlast chippy Senators 5-4

Lars Eller game winning goal wasn’t on the bingo card.

Colorado Avalanche v Ottawa Senators Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after their shootout victory the Colorado Avalanche were back at it again in hopes of a Canada sweep at the home of the Ottawa Senators. A high-scoring, chippy and at times strange affair ensued but the Avalanche held on for a 5-4 victory.

The Game

The first period unfolded in an ideal way with the Avalanche scoring quickly. Cale Makar fired a rifle through traffic off of a face-off win at 2:35 to give the visitors the lead. Colorado converted on their first power play opportunity at 5:00 with Val Nichushkin getting a tip on a Makar shot as it just fluttered over the goal line. An early two-goal lead was just what was needed for some tired legs playing their third game in four nights.

At the mid-point of the period the tide shifted, however. The Avalanche took three penalties and the Senators finally cashed in on the third one, which was a bad call on Alex Newhook. But give a team enough opportunities and they’ll make you pay as Drake Batherson redirected the puck past Jonas Johansson at 19:33 to make it a 2-1 score by the end of the first 20 minutes of play.

The fireworks were just getting started, though. Bowen Byram had a fantastic shift where he set-up Nathan MacKinnon for a Mikko Rantanen tip goal at 4:23 and then Byram almost had a repeat of his highlight reel goal in Montreal. But it was Shane Pinto who scored a marker for Ottawa at 8:20 when the fourth line got caught deep on rush coverage.

Then the redemption tour began. Evan Rodrigues finally got his first goal on the road trip at 15:17 with a great feed from MacKinnon and then put on a great shot which suddenly found the back of the net. That wasn’t the most exciting goal of the period, however, as Lars Eller scored his first in burgundy on a bizarre play in which Ottawa thought it was icing and their goaltender went to cover the puck but then stopped. The puck was free and having heard no whistle Eller poked it home at 18:09. Then Senators challenged for goaltender interference but the goal stood and a 5-2 score after the second period.

To start the third period Ottawa wanted to make it interesting again as they took advantage of the fourth line again on a rush chance. Johansson left out a juicy rebound and Travis Hamonic was the beneficiary as he found the back of the net at 2:52. The Avalanche would have to get focused again to close this one out but more drama ensued.

Rantanen took his nightly penalty and the Senators naturally scored on it as Brady Tkachuk cut the lead to one at 13:18. Byram began to draw the ire of the Senators and it boiled over when Claude Giroux got tangled with Byram in front of the net and face planted hard on the ice. Giroux would leave but then return to the game as the Senators focused on revenge. The pair would eventually leave the ice with matching minors and the second half of the third period became even more chaotic with penalties and cheap shots. Ottawa would get a late power play after a 4-on-4 sequence, they pulled their goaltender and had a brief 5-on-3 to close out the game. Two big face-off wins by JT Compher helped seal the deal and the Avalanche escaped with a 5-4 victory.


Jonas Johansson received his first NHL start of the season and did his job earning the win. He made a huge stop in the last seconds as the Senators were threatening on their 5-on-3. He definitely wasn’t as settled or polished in the net as Alexandar Georgiev and it’s clear the Avalanche don’t want to have to give JoJo too many more starts. But it was just enough on this evening and that’s what counts.

The bottom six is still in flux but with Eller scoring, as flukey as it was, hopefully will kickstart some offense for him. The fourth line of Alex Galchenyuk, Matt Nieto and Alex Newhook had a few shifts with decent pressure and thus good analytics but made big mistakes on two goals against and only saw about five minutes of ice time. This is not the way to use Newhook in particular so hopefully the mix will get reimagined in the near future.


One final stop on the road trip to face the Detroit Red Wings at 11 a.m. MT on Saturday, March 18th.