Different Game, Same Story, as Avalanche fall 6-2 to Maple Leafs
DENVER, CO – The NHL is hard enough, but the Colorado Avalanche have been making it harder on themselves with slow starts in December.
Saturday night was no exception.
The Avalanche gave up two early goals, falling behind the eight-ball once again, on their way to a 6-2 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The game did mark the return of star Nathan MacKinnon to the Avalanche lineup, but he would not factor into the scoring, as their two goals were scored by J.T. Compher and Devon Toews. Compher also added an assist, continuing his hot streak.
Toronto was led by Michael Bunting, who scored two goals to increase his season total to 11. Mitch Marner, Pierre Engvall, Auston Matthews, and T.J. Brodie would also add tallies.
The issues, again, started early for the Avalanche. Marner got the scoring started 6:51 in, as he danced around Andreas Englund before coming in all alone and beating Alexandar Georgiev far side.
Less than three minutes later, Engvall would increase the Maple Leafs lead to two, out battling Englund for a loose puck in front after the Avalanche’s third pairing was stuck in their own end.
The Avalanche would finally get on the board towards the end of the first period, as J.T. Compher would take a drop pass from Logan O’Connor into the zone, cut to the middle, and wire the puck past Matt Murray against the grain.
Any momentum the Avalanche had stopped immediately in the second period.
Ben Meyers would take a slashing penalty just eight seconds into the period, and Bunting would score his first of the night after John Tavares lost the puck trying to go between his legs, making it 3-1.
Devon Toews would get the Avalanche back within one 9:45 into the second, as he smacked a Compher pass off Matthews’ skate into the Maple Leafs net.
Matthews, however, would get his revenge.
After blocking Denis Malgin’s shot, he hunted Malgin down, forcing him to the turn the puck over. William Nylander would hit a wide open Matthews, who had all the time in the world to fire it over Georgiev’s glove. 24 seconds later, Brodie would fire a shot from the wall over Georgiev’s glove, ending the goaltenders night.
The Maple Leafs would add an empty net goal at 16:11 of the third period to seal the 6-2 victory, handing the Avalanche their third straight loss.
The Avalanche will take Sunday off before the return to the ice on Monday to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. They have to hope 2023 starts a little better than 2022 ended.