The Colorado Avalanche cleaned it up a little bit defensively on Sunday night.
Not nearly enough, though.
The Kraken heavily outshot the Avalanche and controlled the majority of the play on their way to a 3-2 overtime victory at Ball Arena. It was the third straight loss for the Avalanche. The team still has a good hold on a playoff spot, but the defensive breakdowns from the last three games are a cause for concern.
Nathan MacKinnon and Denis Malgin scored the goals for the Avalanche. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced, and was easily the best player on the team.
Yanni Gourde scored the overtime winner for the Kraken. In regulation, Brandon Tanev and Alex Wennberg found the back of the night, while Jaden Schwartz finished with two assists.
The first period was one of very few chances on either side. The Avalanche only attempted nine shots at even strength. Overall, it was not the prettiest period of hockey.
But Nathan MacKinnon added some beauty to it.
Off a completely broken play coming out of the corner, the puck somehow came to MacKinnon in the high slot. He faked heading to the center of the ice on his backhand, then cut back quickly to his forehand. With Nichushkin screening Grubauer, MacKinnon ripped a quick shot over the goaltender’s glove, giving the Avalanche the first period lead.
The Avalanche did get a powerplay late in the first, but nothing came from it. Both teams registered only six shots on net in the opening period.
The second period brought more action, and Georgiev was (mostly) ready for it.
The Avalanche goaltender had to stop not one, but two breakaways in the second period. In addition, he made a stretching pad save on the penalty kill early in the period.
The Kraken were finally able to find the back of the net halfway through the second, taking advantage of a defensive zone turnover from the Avalanche.
Bowen Byram had the puck taken away from him behind his own net. The puck eventually kicked out to Borgen at the point, and his shot was tipped in by Wennberg, tying the game at one.
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to answer back, though.
A great breakout play between Rodrigues and Makar sprung Malgin on a breakaway. The Swiss forward came in all alone and beat Grubauer glove side to restore the lead.
Things got feisty at the end of the period, and Mikko Rantanen was unhappy with a missed call. That led to him having some words with the referees, which they did not like. He ended up taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Coupled with a tripping penalty taken by Jack Johnson, the Avalanche were forced to kill off a two-man advantage to start the third period.
And they did just that. Georgiev led the way with multiple glove saves, and the top pairing for the Avalanche never left the ice.
Killing off a full two-man-advantage should have given the Avalanche the momentum.
It really didn’t.
The Kraken kept pushing, and the Avalanche didn’t create much offense in the third period, but they still had the game under control.
A giveaway from the team’s superstar changed that.
With under three minutes remaining, MacKinnon went to reverse the puck behind his net. It ended up right on the stick of Schwartz. The Kraken winger hit a wide open Tanev in front, who wired a shot past Georgiev to tie it up. An angry MacKinnon smacked the puck out of the net into the boards in frustration. He knew his mistake led to the goal.
The game did eventually get to overtime, but it was not a pretty one. At least for the Avalanche.
The Kraken controlled the puck for the entirety of the 1:24 of overtime, and it paid off. When the Avalanche went for a change, Dunn hit a wide open Gourde for a breakaway. He had plenty of time to skate in all alone and beat Georgiev on his blocker side, giving Seattle the overtime victory.
It was a tough end to a slog of a game for the Avalanche. The loser point puts them into a tie with Winnipeg for the third spot in the Central, and gives them a six point lead on the nearest team out of the playoffs. Small victories, I guess.
It’ll be a day off for the Avalanche on Monday, and then they’re right back at it on Tuesday night, when they take on the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season. The game starts at 7 PM MST.