Look out down below (or above in this instance), the Colorado Avalanche is coming.
With a confident 5-0 win over the unrecognizable Chicago Blackhawks, the Avs have now won six straight games. It comes off the back of an incredible road trip out East, returning back home for the first of three games, and with some solid help even without Cale Makar in the lineup.
Support would come from elsewhere in the lineup in his absence. Overall, it would end up being a solid team win to continue rolling. The Avs are now up to 88 points tied for second place in the Central Division with the Minnesota Wild, and only one point behind the leading Dallas Stars.
Colorado scored early but it wasn’t from who you’d expect. It would be the return of Kurtis MacDermid in his first game back from injury, who had an errant shot going about 20 feet wide deflect off a Hawks defender and go in for his first of the year and the first of the night.
Bowen Byram nearly followed suit with the big defender but found the iron on his own shot. Meanwhile, it seemed as if the offense had found the top line as Nathan MacKinnon burst in for what was a sure goal until Alex Stalock said otherwise with this ridiculous save.
Yeah this is absurd. Don’t even care if it’s against the Avs. Just wow #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/76qvfEJz1a— Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) March 21, 2023
Lots of stoppages didn’t allow for much flow in the period, which might’ve favored Chicago. They had a few good chances on Alexandar Georgiev, the best coming from a rush by Andreas Athanasiou which was denied by the left pad of Georgiev to keep it a 1-0 game heading into the break.
After an early kill for a Byram penalty, the new-look second line would connect nicely. Valeri Nichushkin holding the puck drew both Stalock and the defender to him and allowed him to find Denis Malgin rushing in to beat a sprawling Stalock to make it 2-0.
Tensions started to bubble as Evan Rodrigues took a big hit at the blue line from Connor Murphy, and then followed suit with an open-ice hit of his own on Philipp Kurashev to earn himself a spot in the sin-bin. In fact, his teammate, Lars Eller, nearly had his second straight shorthanded goal but rang it off the iron in said kill.
The Avs would capitalize later on though, as Malgin drew a penalty on Jason Dickinson. It allowed Mikko Rantanen to do Mikko Rantanen things for his 47th of the year and a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes left to close it out.
The fourth line continued to work as Jack Johnson got in on the action as his blind shot hit bodies, and Alex Galchenyuk couldn’t snatch up the rebound. On the opposite end of the lineup, MacKinnon did his best to get a goal with multiple chances all being stopped or missing the net.
The scoring would come from elsewhere in quick succession. First, Sam Girard did an excellent job sticking with the play to find Malgin who dished off nicely to Logan O’Connor to rip one home. Then, right after, Malgin would get on the scoresheet again, this time by scoring his second goal of the night on a little floater to make it a 5-0 game just 14 seconds apart.
The quickest goals apart of the season put the game away for good as Ball Arena turned into a concert venue for the rest of the game. Despite a couple of late shenanigans attempted by the Blackhawks on Andrew Cogliano and Brad Hunt, they pitched the shutout in the end and won their sixth straight game.
Have a night Denis Malgin. The forward got two goals and an assist in an excellent game, probably his best in an Avs uniform to date. His new role in the top six has worked wonders, even if his assist on the LOC goal came back in the bottom six. If anything, this game has proven Malgin can be reliable and fit where he may be needed in this lineup. He’ll be looking for a new contract, and tonight was a good showing for him.
Surprisingly, the Blackhawks kept Georgiev busy. For a good chunk of the night, Chicago led the game in shots until Colorado shifted to another gear in the third period. But, when called upon, Georgiev did exactly what he needed to do to get the win and his fifth shutout of the year.
Some other notes from this game: the Avs have now scored a power-play goal in eight straight games, continuing to take advantage of having an extra man on the ice. The bottom six overall were probably the best lines of the game and prove the depth the Avs have got and can utilize when they can turn it up. And to end it on a sour note, Rodrigues did not play in the third period after taking the big hit from Connor. It has been ruled as an upper-body injury but not concussion-related yet, by Jared Bednar. He did not give a timeline on a possible return.
Colorado continues its three-game homestand with a big visit from Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night. Pittsburgh will come into Denver in a dire situation looking in from the outside of the playoff picture, making it a big game for both teams in various ways. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT on national TV on TNT.