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Game Review

Colorado Avalanche lose to Vegas, but still take three of four points in series

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Adrian Dater

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.”

Betting with the Barbers!

“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?

  • 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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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Aaron Hinton

Good stuff, AD – 👊🏽

avsftw

Agreed. Great stuff! Watched the game at the bar with no audio so happy I can circle back and get the deets I missed

Matt Briggle

A quick theory about their struggles 3 on 3 – too much space for them. That may seem counter intuitive with all the speed and talent they have on that bench, but hear me out for a min. Yes, guys like MacK and Makar can flat out fly, but where they are really dangerous is when they use their quickness, stickhandling, and agility in tight spaces. At 5 on 5 that causes mistakes by the defenders and creates those fleeting moments of open ice that they then exploit. At 3 on 3 the defenders don’t necessarily have to defend them… Read more »

dp10

Along similar lines, I think 3v3 is just a different kind of risk management. If you have guys like MacKinnon, Makar or Girard out there, the opponent automatically will go into caution mode. Rather than checking them closely, opponents will give them some space but will try to minimize exposure of their own net, which is quite different from how they play our top guns 5v5.

JD16

Man, did Donskoi and Rantanen freaky Friday themselves.

John Mauss

Well put.

Joshua Canfield

Good write-up AD. I have to say, I am furious over the officiating of these games with Vegas. No call on the Byram hit and then a non-tripping tripping call on MacK. I really hope that NHL takes the time to review some of these calls.

With that said; the Avs played really well against a foe that everyone sees as a Cup contender. They didn’t push as hard enough the last 25 minutes of tonight’s game but I’m sure they will come out flying on Monday. It’s a good time to be an Avs fan ☺

ricoflashback

Hosed on the calls for sure. What bothers me the most about referee blown calls is there are no consequences for their actions. I guess that’s life. Absolute idiot play by Landeskog to get trapped against the boards. There was no place for him to go. It’s all about puck possession when it’s 3 on 3.

GWood

Agree, Landeskog’s puck possession has been below average for awhile now, I don’t know why they throw him out there on the 3 on 3.

Doug

No, the Avs took 3 of 5 points in the series. Vegas took 2, Avs took 3. Yes, the spirit of Tim Peel was alive with the calls and no calls. Vegas exerted their will with their superior size and strength, negating the superior speed and skill of the Avs. And the refs accommodated it.

troian

Exactly right (headline not wrong…but wrong) – despite winning one game decisively and being in position to win a second and taking it into overtime…all of that just netted +1 points over Vegas (although it undoubtedly did do some good for the Avs’ confidence if they meet in the post season). The complaints about officiating aren’t wrong, but to a certain extent they are misplaced…as much as the NHL has changed, it hasn’t changed that much (at least not yet)…a team like the Avs is not going to get the benefit of the doubt…so folks should shift their attention to… Read more »

Doug

Great point Trolan! The calls/no calls irk me but you’re right, it’s going to happen in the playoffs too. You’re right, what do we need to do improve is the question – back-up netminder? Get tougher at the deadline? Not sure who would come out of the line up if we brought in toughness at the deadline.

Matt Briggle

When they say a team gets 3 out of 4 points, I do believe they are referring to the points available to that team. There were 4 points available to the Avs in that series and they got 3 of them.

Doug

Great point about the 2nd line – they need to get back to producing offensively. I wonder if Byram was hurt or if Bednar decided that at this stage of Bo’s career and the physicality edge of Vegas, Renouf would provide a situational advantage for that game. Bo plays physically too but we dont need him fighting Kolesar or for God’s sake Reaves. Renouf may have been there largely to do what he did early in dropping the gloves with Kolesar after the illegal but uncalled hit on Byram in the previous game. Just a thought.

Heath Mathis

It was a 5 point series … so Avs got 3 of the 5 total points

ricoflashback

This will be on the Dater Mid-Term Exam.

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