Devon Toews got the shaft.
The Avalanche defenseman threw his stick, what was remaining of it anyway, hard against the ice in frustration before heading for the Avalanche dressing room after Saturday’s 3-2 Avs overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. His blade was back at the other end of the ice, having just been separated from the rest of the stick, a useless appendage when Toews needed it most.
Toews’ loss of the blade left him with little to use on a loose puck in the crease, which Vegas veteran Max Pacioretty took advantage of with the game-winner at 1:56 of OT. The Golden Knights thus retain rights to first place in the Honda West Division, one point ahead of the Avs. Colorado still took three of four points from the Golden Knights in the two-game series, and several other battles with them remain before the playoffs.
“My stick let me down a little there,” said a still-peeved Toews after the game.
That’s kind of the day it was for the Avs. It seemed like it might be another easy game against Vegas, especially after Jonas Donskoi scored early and the Avs had a 10-2 shot advantage. But too many penalties allowed Vegas to regroup on the power play, tie the game up and from there they used their size and forechecking to good advantage. The Avs had a 2-1 lead from a Toews slap shot goal, but Vegas tied it up again early in the third, and things went to OT.
The Avs won the opening faceoff and Nathan MacKinnon burst into the Vegas zone, but had a shot blocked, then he was blatantly tripped. But the Avs got no call. Vegas was foiled on a 3-on-1 break after the non-call, with Philipp Grubauer flashing some serious leather on a Shea Theodore shot.
But the game was lost when, after Gabe Landeskog got pinned with the puck in the corner of the Vegas zone and lost possession, Vegas came back down the ice in an outnumbered situation. Toews probably would have cleared the loose puck if he’d had his blade, but it wasn’t meant to be.
“We’ll learn from this,” Toews said. “We haven’t been outshot in a while. Just didn’t quite play our game. I think we had a little bit more to give tonight.”
“We spent a little too much time in our zone,” said Donskoi, who had another strong game.
Jared Bednar was ticked off his team didn’t get a tripping call when MacKinnon went down. Otherwise, he said, “I thought both teams played hard. It was a relatively tight-checking game. I didn’t love our third period. It seemed like their checking ramped up a little.”
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
- Bednar said Bo Byram (upper body) is considered day-to-day right now. He said Byram was hurt on the unpenalized Lambeau Leap hit from Keegan Kolesar in Thursday’s game.
- No question, the Avs also got the shaft from the referees in this game, in my opinion. Not only did MacKinnon not get a tripping call when he clearly was, he was called for a phantom tripping minor in the third period. The Avs got two power plays on the day, none in the final 50 minutes of regulation. The fact that Kolesar got nothing for a blatantly dangerous hit on Byram says it all how the series was officiated. Want proof?
The spirit of Tim Peel was alive and well today. 🤬🤬🤬 pic.twitter.com/qgDBn03kFG
— Joey Suyeishi (@avrilanche) March 27, 2021
- Nazem Kadri and Ryan Reaves did a lot of jawing at each other after the first period ended.
- Dan Renouf played in place of Byram and fought Kolesar early in the game.
- Overall, it was a little too quiet of a series for the Avs’ second line of Brandon Saad, Kadri and Andre Burakovsky. They were blanked again today.
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