One night after their best defensive performance of the season, the Colorado Avalanche were in Ottawa to take on the Senators.
And while it certainly wasn’t as pretty a performance as the night before, the Avalanche were able to walk out of Canada’s capital with a big 5-4 win.
Led by Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, who both picked up three points, the Avalanche won their third straight road game. They’re now staring down a perfect road trip, with just one game remaining before they return to Denver for three home games.
Timely goals, and a really timely save by Jonas Johansson were the key to another Avalanche victory.
Do you love powerplays? If you do, then you would have loved the first period. Between the two teams, there were a combined five powerplays in the opening period. There was no flow whatsoever, and a lot of the calls were soft.
Either way, the Avalanche got on the scoresheet early, and looked like they were ready to run away with the game.
Off a set face-off play, Nathan MacKinnon won it back to Mikko Rantanen. The big Finn heard Cale Makar calling for the pass behind him, and dropped it back. Makar skated in and wired a wrist shot between Sogaard’s arm, giving the Avalanche the early lead.
Cale Makar gets the Avs on the board early 🔥
— Drew Livingstone (@ProducerDrew_) March 16, 2023
Less than three minutes later, the Avalanche got their first powerplay, and capitalized. A Makar shot got through some traffic, and was deflected by Nichushkin. The puck trickled off Sogaard and barely crossed the goal line, giving the Avalanche the two goal lead five minutes in.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 16, 2023
With under 30 seconds remaining, the Senators finally got one back. Already on their third powerplay, Tim Stutzle sent a pass into the high slot. Drake Batherson got a piece of it, deflecting it through the legs of Jonas Johansson. The goal cut the Avalanche lead to one, a lead they carried into the second period.
The Avalanche finished the first period spending a lot of time in their end, and that’s how the second started. They went over 13 minutes without a shot on net.
But on just their second shot of the second period, Mikko Rantanen put the Avalanche back up by two. Bowen Byram sent the puck to MacKinnon at the blueline, and he fired a one-timer towards the net. Rantanen deflected the puck up and over Sogaard for his 45th of the season.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 17, 2023
Just four minutes later, a defensive breakdown in the neutral zone by the Avalanche led to Shane Pinto bringing the Senators back within one.
But with under five minutes remaining in the second, Evan Rodrigues scored a much needed goal, both for him and the team. MacKinnon sent the puck across the ice to Rodrigues, and he wasted no time wiring the puck over the shoulder of Sogaard. It’s a big goal for the 29 year old forward, as he missed a ton of great opportunities against Toronto.
And with under two minutes, Lars Eller scored his first with the Avalanche, in what can only be described as the strangest goal of the season.
The Senators thought it was an icing, and then they thought Sogaard had the puck covered. The goaltender let up for one second, and Eller banged away at the puck, shoving it just past the goal line for his eighth goal of the season. As you would expect, the Senators were unhappy. Not just over the no-call on the icing, but the lack of a whistle, as it did look like Sogaard had the puck covered. Either way, the goal stood after a review, and the Avalanche had a 5-2 lead.
LARS ELLER. WOW! 😂 pic.twitter.com/z7Mlrnz8YH
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 17, 2023
The Avalanche looked like a tired team in the third period. Seeing as they played the night before, it makes sense. That allowed the Senators to get back into the game.
Travos Hamonic was left all alone in front of the net early in the third period, and was allowed to deposit a rebound into the back of the net. The Senators kept coming, but the game started to get feisty.
In what looked like a good defensive play in front of the net, Byram cut down Claude Giroux, and the veteran appeared to hit his face on the ice. That kicked off the Senators trying to get after Byram. Brady Tkachuk threw a hit on Byram near the Senators bench, and then whipped his leg over Byram’s head, which took the young defenseman’s helmet off.
After Giroux returned, he took the opportunity to throw Byram down on the forecheck. Byram got up and cross-checked Giroux, and the veteran dove. The refs ended up sending both players to the box.
Tkachuk cut the Avalanche lead to one with less than seven minutes remaining, as the Senators got another powerplay after a Rantanen penalty.
From there, the Avalanche just had to hold on.
And they did, thanks to Jonas Johansson.
The Swedish goaltender, starting his first game of the year for the Avalanche, stretched across with less than five seconds remaining and robbed Debrincat. That save ultimately won the game for the Avalanche, as they held on for a 5-4 win.
The Avalanche will now head to Detroit, as they look to finish off a perfect road trip. The game against the Red Wings on Saturday will start at 11 AM MST.