Back from a harder-than-it-needed-to-be sweep of California the Colorado Avalanche were back in town to face a few potential playoff foes to wrap up the regular season and first up was the Edmonton Oilers. The game had a playoff feel with tight checking and few goals scored but Edmonton benefitted from regular season overtime rules and escaped with 2-1 win.
Getting on the board first was just what the Avalanche needed in this spirited game. Ben Meyers was again the beneficiary of some luck as he was credited with the first goal of the game after the Oilers defense swatted the puck past their own netminder at 4:52.
That lead lasted 14 seconds as the Oilers took the puck the other way and fired a shot past Alexandar Georgiev. The goal was just barely onside and Mattias Ekholm was determined to have a good goal after the officials had a look. After 20 minutes of play the score was even at one apiece.
The second period started to turn in Edmonton’s favor about the midpoint of the frame but they still couldn’t grab the lead even after getting 17 shots in the period. After the home team survived a four minute penalty kill against the unstoppable Oilers power play the match headed into the second intermission still tied 1-1.
Playing a more defensive oriented game is what the Avalanche prefer but they sacrificed creating their own offense far too much in doing so. A late power play showed some urgency and better looks but nothing could get by Stuart Skinner. And the two teams would head to overtime to settle the final score.
In the extra frame each team had some chances but once Edmonton drew a 4-on-3 power play it was a matter of time and Evan Bouchard converted on a point shot to give the visitors the 2-1 victory.
Any meeting with the Oliers is always hyped up as the Connor McDavid show but the fact is the Avalanche have figured out how to do a good job limiting him. In all three meetings in the season series McDavid has logged just one assist in each, including in the 6-5 barn burner comeback win in February. It’s a credit to Jared Bednar’s game planning and the team using their speed in a defensive manner.
It was good to have a playoff test before the real thing gets started next week. The Avalanche looked a lot more focused and ready to battle than in much of their California trip last week. Unfortunately lack of depth led to a shortened bench despite the Meyers-Newhook-Eller line generating Colorado’s only goal. Getting Cale Makar back is a sure boost of offense but scoring is going to prove difficult at the next stage.
With the Minnesota Wild dropping their game against the Winnipeg Jets and the Avalanche gaining that crucial overtime loss point that now secures that Colorado will finish no lower than second place in the Central Division. The division crown is still up for grabs as well as top seed in the west, which means Thursday’s game is still going to be meaningful even if Winnipeg has the second wild card locked up.
One last regular season game at home against the Winnipeg Jets at 6 p.m. MT on Thursday, April 13th.