Duck hunting season is in full effect.
At least for the Colorado Avalanche, who took care of business over the Anaheim Ducks with a solid 5-1 win. It is their third straight win and is good revenge after the Ducks got the win over the Avs last time they faced off at Ball Arena in January.
With the win, the Central Division continues to stay close. Colorado moves up to 94 points, one point behind the Wild who beat the brakes off the Seattle Kraken tonight as well. However, they are now two points ahead of the Dallas Stars who have fallen from the top of the Central within the last week.
It took some time for the Avs to find their legs just over 24 hours after playing against the Arizona Coyotes. However, Matt Nieto and Lars Eller still had their chances but they all were stopped or missed the net. Same with Andrew Cogliano who hit the iron.
However, Colorado would shoot themselves in the foot as Cale Makar had a bad turnover in the defensive zone. It gave the puck to Jakob Silfverberg who found Derek Grant to put it by Jonas Johansson for the lead.
However, the lead wouldn’t last long. The goal by the Ducks kicked the Avs into gear. Bowen Byram would let one go from the point and it beat all the traffic and John Gibson to tie it up.
Colorado kept trucking from there. Alex Newhook and J.T. Compher also had their chances that were stopped by Gibson right on the goal line and somehow didn’t go in. However, with 7.9 seconds to go in the period, Nathan MacKinnon would get one to go in and give the Avs the lead heading into the room.
Colorado came out of the room in the second period and did not hold back. It started when Byram had a great chance shooting in the opposite direction of Gibson’s movement but just missed the net. Instead, a different defensive player would get on the board in an emphatic way.
Jack Johnson’s first goal of the year and first back with the Avs were calls for a celebration, and his team got to celebrate even more when MacKinnon found Valeri Nichushkin with a perfect pass to increase the lead.
Colorado still had more chances too they just couldn’t put them away. This included Denis Malgin almost putting one home in front before it was deflected. The same goes for Darren Helm who just missed the net after an intercepted pass by Makar.
Both teams killed off respective penalties to end the period, including a flurry of saves by Johansson after Silfverberg came out of the box to keep himself busy into what was hopefully a quiet third period.
The Avs didn’t take their foot off the gas, as Logan O’Connor put a tough shot on Gibson he deflected away. The first line also did their work as usual which led to MacKinnon drawing a holding penalty on Silfverberg. It led to Sam Girard putting away his sixth of the year, a career-high, and the team’s 12th straight game with a power play goal.
After killing off a Jack Johnson interference penalty, Colorado continued to pressure. MacKinnon almost added to his assists on the year when he found Makar streaking in and finessing his way through several Ducks defenders. He beat Gibson, but not the crossbar, unfortunately.
It did not matter in the long run, as the Avs continued to push the issue on Anaheim and give Gibson a hefty workout. After dealing with some tempers with Max Jones, they would close it out in the end comfortably and headed home with a third straight win.
It was a slow start to the game, as was to be expected coming off a back-to-back just over 24 hours ago against the Arizona Coyotes. It was definitely concerning for a second there especially once the Ducks took the lead off of a bad Makar turnover. Regardless, they fought back brilliantly and ended up being a big team win thanks to a great end to the first period, a very controlling second period, and a shut-down third period.
MacKinnon was once again his usual dominant self tonight, as he continued to tally up the points in his chase for 100 points in a season for the first time in his career. With a goal and an assist tonight, he is up to 95 points. It’s four behind his current career-high of 99 and of course, only five behind the centurion mark. It will be a big achievement for him, whether or not he’ll admit it to the press. Meanwhile, Mikko Rantanen wasn’t able to add to his chase of 50 goals but is still certainly on track to do so somewhere down the line if MacKinnon keeps wheeling and dealing.
The win gives the Avs their third straight as they head into arguably the two most important games of the season. It includes games against the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars, the other two top teams in the Central Division. These next two games will probably determine the division and how it all unfolds. Regardless, the most recent win streak for the Avs is coming at the right time as they look to win the division for the third year in a row. Their biggest test is now. Should they pass with flying colors, it will be great for Avs faithful.
Colorado returns home for two massive home games, starting with the Minnesota Wild Wednesday night as previously mentioned. Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. on TNT.