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Recap: Rowdy rookies reap in five unanswered goal comeback win

The 15th comeback win of the season came from those who you might not expect.

Colorado Avalanche v Ottawa Senators Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Death, taxes, and the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators playing in ridiculous games.

The two teams combined for 11 goals, with Colorado scoring five unanswered goals in a massive 7-4 comeback win, the 15th one of the season which leads the league. The win is crucial for the Avalanche, which was a good bounce back from Monday night’s disappointing loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

11 different point scorers made the difference, with tons of depth scoring and help from rookies among the likes of Sam Malinski and Jason Polin. It only helped with the high scoring these two teams have, as dating back to 2021 in their last six matchups, the two have combined for 60 goals.

First Period

Both teams traded a few changes to start this one. For the Avs, their best chance came from Miles Wood returning to the lineup and not skipping a beat. He had a semi-breakaway denied by Mads Soggard in his first start of the season.

At the other end, the Sens hit the post twice, once from Claude Giroux at a tight angle and again from Thomas Chabot off the crossbar. Ridly Greig also missed an open net tap-in at the far post before running into Justus Annunen, who was no worse for the wear. The same couldn't be said for Sogaard after he caught a stick from Ross Colton up high, drawing a crowd and some treatment. But, he would stay in the game.

Colton’s double minor gave Ottawa a powerplay they wouldn’t miss on. Drake Batherson’s initial shot was blocked by Logan O’Connor, stunning him out of the play. Batherson took advantage by grabbing the puck and beating Annunen to take the lead.

But the lead would only last for 38 seconds. Colorado immediately responded with Mikko Rantanen getting down on one knee to finish off a Cale Makar pass to even the score again.

The Avs couldn’t control much of the play from there, with Ottawa pushing for the lead again. Annunen got in the way with a few great saves on Sanderson and Brady Tkachuk on the breakaway to keep the score even heading into the room.

Second Period

Ottawa opened the scoring in the period with Greig jumping on the puck sitting in the crease to put it home. It all came from a Tkachuk shot which hit the post and got behind Annunen, and again the lead was given to the home team.

But once again, the Avs responded quickly. Just 1:06 later, Jason Polin got a nice tip pass from Fredrik Olofsson and ripped it into the top corner. His first professional hockey goal exemplified what he had done last year in the NCAA as the leading goal-scorer, and evened the game up.

After a Giroux slashing penalty led to nothing on a Colorado powerplay, they would let up at the other end. First, Greig was allowed the space to walk into the slot and beat Annunen over his shoulder for the lead and his second of the game. Soon after, Sanderson was allowed the same space but just on the far side and doubled the Sens lead.

Finally, the Avs would swing some momentum their way. It came shorthanded with Olofsson off for a tripping penalty, with Joel Kiviranta just missing a golden chance on a 2-on-1 with Devon Toews.

Sam Malinski walked in afterward back at even strength with a coast-to-coast beauty to bring the game to one. But, Ottawa challenged the goal for offsides and won it, disallowing a great goal by the rookie.

Luckily for the Avs, they didn’t have to wait long for their third goal of the game. It came from Rantanen for his second of the game, sniping it top corner from the far circle to officially make it a one-goal game.

The final few minutes of the period were chaotic, as typical between these two teams whenever they play one another. Jonathan Drouin was robbed by Sogaard right in front as he stretched from right to left, while the netminder continued to make big saves shorthanded when Cale Makar was cross-checked by Greig.

But at the other end even with the man advantage, Annunen was busy. He had to make a few huge stops on a breakaway and a 2-on-1 shorthanded, somehow keeping the puck out of the net. Both goaltenders were doing their job to keep this game at 4-3 heading into the intermission, but still with plenty of questions as to who would end up in front.

Third Period

The Avalanche came out flying from the locker room and didn’t look back. Colton nearly got the party started just seconds in, but his rush to the crease just dribbled wide of the post.

But fear not, because his linemate on an ensuing rush wouldn't miss. It came from the man returning to the lineup from illness bringing the game level: Miles Wood.

Looking for the lead for the first time in the game, the Avs had a great chance to do so with a Giroux tripping penalty on Makar. But first, Annunen was called into action with a massive glove save on a 2-on-1.

It would eventually pay off for him and the Avalanche. Malinski got the puck at the top of the circles and couldn't miss the net. This time, his goal would count and give the Avs a 5-4 lead for the first time in the game.

But they wouldn't stop there. The makeshift second line struck again, this time through O’Connor. He got the puck handed off to him from Wood and barreled in to put the puck over the glove of Sogaard to extend the lead to two.

The Sens would pull Sogaard with over five minutes to go, desperate and rolling the dice down two. They would lose on the gamble though, with Devon Toews firing one into the empty from a long way away.

Ottawa still wouldn’t give up with some shots on Annunen, but he still stood tall and did his job in the closing minutes. It would be all they needed to close out another rowdy win over the Senators in a 7-4 final.

Takeaways

The rookies and young guns stepped up and made themselves heard in a big way tonight. Malinski had himself a goal and assist (hitting my Mile High Hockey Lab prediction spot on!) along with a disallowed goal in the process, which was a beauty going coast-to-coast. His assist came on Polin’s goal, which was his first goal in professional hockey (yes, he hadn’t scored yet with the Colorado Eagles in the AHL). The overall depth was great, with the fourth line earning its ice time and tons of depth scoring apart from the first line.

Part of the rookie success came from Annunen, getting his first start of the season with the Avalanche. He looked great in the first period, shaky in the second period, but dominant in the third period. All things considered, he was good. The Avalanche were able to outscore the defensive problems they had in the middle frame, while Annunen did step up and make some important saves when he needed to. You’d like to see a better performance against tougher opponents, and maybe could if he plays any of the next two games on the road trip.

While the rookies and depth players made a difference in the game, you could also say the same about MacKinnon and what he continues to do on a nightly basis. While he didn’t score, he did record two assists en route to the win. Perhaps more importantly and notable, he now is tied with the league lead in points with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov. They both have 72 points, having stellar seasons for their respective clubs. MacKinnon has not yet held the lead individually overnight this season, so he will still be looking to achieve that sooner rather than later.

Upcoming

Game four of five of this road trip continues against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop on Thursday night is at 5:00 p.m. MT