The Colorado Avalanche met the Arizona Coyotes at Mullet Arena in Tempe, Arizona, for the second of a home-and-home situation. The Avalanche survived the Coyotes in the first installment by a score of 3-1. Would the Avalanche double down or fall victim to Mullet Magic?
The theme of the first period was low-event and tight defensive hockey, which led to a scoreless period that saw just five shots from each side. Mikko Rantanen broke the scoreless tie when Coyote netminder Connor Ingram left his net to play the puck at the end of an Avalanche powerplay and lost track of the puck, allowing Mikko Rantanen to tuck it in before he could get back to the net. A minute later, Bowen Byram scored off a puck Logan O'Connor put on the net. The rebound hit a skate, and Byram was able to tuck it behind Ingram.
Hard to the net ♂️#BoAvsBo Moment #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/9qMUp0q88n— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) March 26, 2023
Things got uncomfortable for Colorado in the third period, who held a 2-0 lead with about half of the third period remaining. First, Matias Maccelli tucked an off-angle shot between Alexandar Georgiev and the post. Shortly after, the Avalanche got caught in a change and gave up a rush, giving Christian Fischer a clean look that beat Georgiev. Just like that, the game was tied at two.
Colorado was fortunate to head to a powerplay as the PA announcer credited the goal. The powerplay goals streak continues after Valeri Nichuskin redirected a beautiful pass from Mikko Rantanen. The Coyotes still wouldn't go away. Clayton Keller has been Arizona's best player as of late, and his spin-o-rama turnaround shot caught Goeorgiev off guard, reestablishing a tie hockey game. It would take some extra hockey to decide this matinee affair.
POINT #80— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) March 26, 2023
CLAYTON KELLER pic.twitter.com/s9Frb0Tlyf
The Avalanche are desperate for two points amid the Central Division race. Colorado primarily dominated the overtime period regarding possession and chances but could not beat Ingram. Both Alexandar Georgiev and Connor Ingram were lights out in the shootout, but Alexandar Georgiev made one more save than Ingram after seven shootout rounds. Only Valeri Nichushkin beat Ingram with a beautiful backhand to forehand move, a la Peter Forsberg.
NICHUSHKIN OH MY GOODNESS #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/822MgjSeeq— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) March 26, 2023
Giving up a two-goal lead in the third period to the Coyotes is less than ideal, but to be fair, there has just been something about Mullet Arena and how Arizona fairs at home. Arizona has just seven regulation wins on the road compared to 20 on home ice. The Avalanche did well to weather the storm and come out on top. Two points are two points.
Mikko Rantanen has ten games to score two goals if he wants to be the fifth 50-goal scorer in Avalanche/Nordiques history. If he can get more than 54 goals, he will have the most goals in a single season by any Colorado Avalanche player. He would top Super Joe. A pretty impressive season for someone who doesn't get the national attention he deserves. Oh well, it doesn't seem to bother him.
Gotta watch out for that Mikko Rantanen guy @Avalanche | #GoAvsGo | #NHLNShowcase pic.twitter.com/1qL8nLuES2— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) March 26, 2023
Colorado's shootout victory marks Colorado's 43rd win and slots them into second place in the Central Division. They sit just one point behind the Minnesota Wild with a game in hand and currently sport the division's best winning percentage. Securing the top spot in the Central could prove pivotal to Colorado's repeat aspirations. Locking up a more favorable first-round matchup should allow more time for a banged-up Avalanche squad to heal.
VAL NICHUSHKIN!!!!!! #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/TxvLvw0oy7— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) March 26, 2023
Colorado will head to Anaheim for a showdown with the Ducks in the second of a back-to-back. The Ducks beat Colorado in the last meeting 5-3, giving them one of their 15 regulation victories.