Down their top defenseman, the Colorado Avalanche found a way.
Led by the Finnish duo up front, the Avalanche scored three quick goals in the first period on their way to a huge 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Alexandar Georgiev was big in net, stopping 34 shots in his first game action in over a week.
The win now puts the Avalanche two points behind the Flames in the playoff race. They have three games in hand on Calgary.
Artturi Lehkonen and Mikko Rantanen each scored two goals in the win. Nathan MacKinnon added two assists, while Rantanen added an assist of his own.
Tyler Toffoli scored the only goal for the Flames.
The slow starts are starting to feel like a thing of the past, because the Avalanche, once again, came out firing.
6:17 into the game, Devon Toews forced a turnover, poking a puck right to J.T. Compher. Rantanen saw the turnover happen, and screamed for the puck. Compher saw (and heard) him, sending the puck his way, and Rantanen fired a shot high glove for his 30th of the season.
The rest of the period belonged to Artturi Lehkonen.
A little over halfway through the period, the Avalanche would lose a defensive zone face-off, and it didn’t matter. MacKinnon, who was playing wing, burst past everyone and stole the puck, creating an odd-man rush. He hit a streaking Lehkonen backdoor to extend the lead to two.
Less than three minutes later on the powerplay, the lead became three.
A missed deflection from Rantanen at the side of the net would take an Avalanche bounce, coming off the backboards behind Jakob Markstrom, and right to a wide open Lehkonen. He wasted no time firing it past the goaltender for his second of the night.
The Flames got a powerplay late in the period, but the Avalanche killed it off, and went into the intermission up three goals.
The second period had plenty of chances for both teams, but no one was able to capitalize. Alexandar Georgiev was particularly strong in net, and had some luck on his side, as the puck came dangerously close to crossing the goal line a few times. But it did not, and that’s all that matters.
The score remained the same heading into the third.
The Flames would finally find their way onto the scoresheet in the third period, thanks to a powerplay goal. Toffoli fired a wrist shot past a screened Georgiev, and the Avalanche lead was down to two.
That’s all they would get, as Georgiev shut the door the rest of the way.
Rantanen added a goal into the empty net, and that was all she wrote, with the Avalanche pulling out the 4-1 victory.
Now on a three game winning streak, the Avalanche will head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks this Friday. The game starts at 8 PM MST.