A total meltdown.
That’s basically what it was for the Avalanche here tonight, as they found a way to turn a 3-1 lead with less than eight minutes to go in the game into a 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers at the Pepsi Center – Colorado’s second loss in a row at home and third time in the last four overall they’ve skated off the ice without two points.
While they got the loser’s point, there was nothing good about how the Avs played in those final eight minutes. The Avs just went into the rope-a-dope, prevent-defense style of game and let the Panthers just camp out in their own zone in that time.
Two goals in those final eight minutes happened, with Jonathan Huberdeau tying it up with 1:30 left, beating Philipp Grubauer with a wrist shot over the right shoulder. The overtime took all of 29 seconds to play, and it was a lot like the OTs of last year.
The Avs lost the opening faceoff and never got full possession of the puck. Huberdeau snuck in behind the Avs’ defense and beat Grubauer with a backhander through the 5-hole and that was that.’
It was a stunning end to a game in which the Avs did a lot of good things to the 52-minute mark of the game. But the game is 60 minutes long, not 52.
TAKEAWAYS AND OTHER NOTES/OBSERVATIONS
- Mark Barberio got a start instead of Ryan Graves. Barbs was paired with Nikita Zadorov
- I’m still not sure why the game started at 8 p.m. It wasn’t on national TV or anything.
- Vladislav Kamenev played his first game of the season and he wasn’t very good. He got nailed again with another big hit, from not keeping his head up and just didn’t do much offensively. Gotta give the kid some slack, being the first game and all. But at the very least, he’s got to keep his head up out there.
- Nothing to complain about with Nathan MacKinnon. He got at least a point for the 12th straight game, including a seeing-eye shot that gave the Avs that 3-1 lead close to the halfway point of the third.
- I thought Sam Girard was sublime. His overall analytics numbers might not have shown it, but I thought he made some really good plays with the puck in his own end, getting pucks out of trouble.
- Zadorov had a massive Z Smash at 7:31 of the third period on Florida’s Jayce Hawryluk, who had his head down coming out of his zone and was just crushed. He immediately left the ice, with his left shoulder looking hurt. The Panthers tried to retaliate against Z a few shifts later, and multiple penalties ensued.
- Zadorov was assessed an extra two minutes as part of all of it, and it hurt. That’s when Florida got a power-play goal to cut it to 3-2. That won’t do him any favors with Jared Bednar.
- Valeri Nichushkin – poor guy. He had a full-out breakaway in the third period. But he was foiled by Sergei Bobrovsky. Counting last year, Nichushkin has now gone 65 straight games without a goal.
- I thought the Avs moved the puck pretty well on the power play, but didn’t shoot enough. MacKinnon isn’t taking any one-timers from the left circle. He’s been stick-handling the puck a lot and usually giving it back to the point man.
- The second line of Tyson Jost, Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher? Some decent moments out there, but in the end, no points on the score sheet. Jost finished with eight Corsi events for, 18 against. Not good.
- One look at this Corsi, puck-possession chart below shows what happened. Look at how that final chart line just sags down in favor of the Panthers. There’s your hockey game. Just really not smart at all. You work for 52 minutes and then just say “OK, we’re done here, let’s let Grooby do the rest.”