The Colorado Avalanche were in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night, and fans have to be feeling good about the way they played.
Defense wins games in the playoffs, and the Avalanche completely shut down the Maple Leafs on their way to a massive 2-1 shootout victory. The Maple Leafs only generated 29 shot attempts at 5-on-5, as the Avalanche gave them no easy looks, slowing them down through the neutral zone.
It might have been the best defensive performance of the season for the Avalanche.
Good Road Period
The Avalanche came out and controlled the majority of the play in the first period. Shot attempts were 20-10 in the first period for the Avalanche, but it was the Maple Leafs who scored first.
After an offensive zone turnover by Nathan MacKinnon, the home team turned the puck the other way. Mitch Marner drew everyone to him, and found a wide-open Morgan Rielly on the other side of the ice. No one on the Avalanche picked him up, and he was able to walk in and pick his spot on Georgiev, beating him glove side.
A little over ten minutes later, the Avalanche tied it up on the powerplay. After some good zone time, Makar hit Mikko Rantanen in the right circle. Rantanen tried to feed the puck across the crease for Nichushkin, but it bounced off the defenders leg and snuck through Samsonov’s legs, tying the game at one.
Mikko Rantanen's 44th of the year evens things up in the first! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/3ZhXrVw7ff
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 15, 2023
The Avalanche killed off a penalty later in the second period, and the first period ended tied at one.
In the second period, the Avalanche continued to control the play. However, neither team were able to generate much in terms of high-end scoring chances. Each team team had two powerplay chances, but no goals were scored. Georgiev made a big save on Rielly on one of the Maple Leafs powerplays, sliding from side-to-side to stop him on the backdoor.
Nylander sends a cross-crease pass through to Rielly
Georgiev makes the save pic.twitter.com/SPKPm6qTgb
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 16, 2023
With no goals in the second period, the teams went into the second intermission tied up at one each.
Failed to Capitalize
The third period was a lot like the second period. Both teams locked it down defensively, and there weren’t a lot of high-end chances either way.
The Avalanche, however, did have two powerplays that they failed to take advantage of. They didn’t create a ton of chances on either of those powerplays either.
Georgiev’s biggest save came late in the period, when Jake McCabe was left all alone. McCabe tried to beat Georgiev on the glove side just like Rielly did, but the goaltender got just a piece of it, sending it wide. Ultimately, it was another scoreless period, and the two teams went to overtime.
Both teams had some chances in overtime, but neither of them were able to capitalize. The best look for the Avalanche came late, when Rantanen ripped a shot low off Samsonov’s pads. It bounced right into the slot for Nichushkin, but the puck bounced over his stick.
The game needed to be decided in a shootout.
The star of the shootout was Alexandar Georgiev. The Leafs sent out three star shooters, and he gave them nothing to look at. He tracked Nylander’s every move, took away the shot from Matthews, and poked the puck off Marner’s stick.
Georgiev secures the shootout win for the Avs! 💪 pic.twitter.com/5GDTBDseUi
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 16, 2023
At the other end, Evan Rodrigues couldn’t beat Samsonov, but Nathan MacKinnon made no mistake. Although, he did get a little bit of luck.
He pulled wide right, and the puck rolled off his stick a little bit, but he got just enough of it to send it over the glove of Samsonov.
— Barstool Denver (@BarstoolDenver) March 16, 2023
With the goal, the Avalanche walked out of Toronto with two big points, getting a little bit of revenge for the beatdown the Maple Leafs gave them back in December.
They’ll now head to Ottawa to take on the Senators on Thursday night. The game starts at 5 PM MST.