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The King is Back: Makar Leads Avalanche to 3-1 Win over Coyotes




Have the Colorado Avalanche finally figured out the key to beating the Arizona Coyotes? It sure seems like it. What’s the key?


The Avalanche slowly broke down the visiting Coyotes, much like they did just 13 days prior, on their way to a 3-1 victory. They’ll get another chance to show that they’ve solved the pesky Coyotes on Sunday, when the two teams meet in Arizona. The Avalanche outshot the Coyotes 21-10 in the final two periods before finally breaking through to take the lead.

The star of the game for the Avalanche was Cale Makar, who picked up three points in his return to the lineup after missing two games. He now has 19 points in his last nine games, and is making a late run for another Norris Trophy.

The win keeps the Avalanche within striking distance of first place in the Central Division. They’re now two points back of the Dallas Stars with a game in hand.

First Period

It was a pretty even first, and the scoreboard at the end of the period represented that. The goal scorers were two of the hottest players in the league.

Erik Johnson, in his first game back in six weeks, got a big cheer from the home crowd on his first shift of the game.

11:37 into the period, the Avalanche got the first powerplay of the game, and their red-hot powerplay took advantage of it.

Cale Makar, sitting at center-point, passed it over to Nathan MacKinnon at the top of the right circle.  MacKinnon walked in and used J.T. Compher as a screen, firing the puck past Vejmelka for the opening goal of the game. The tally marked the 10th straight game that the Avalanche powerplay has scored a goal.

Late in the first period, the Coyotes tied the game up. Sam Girard felt he was slashed in the offensive zone while releasing his shot, and his shot was easily blocked by the defenseman. They sprung Nick Schmaltz up the ice, and Girard tripped over Schmaltz’s skates, giving Clayton Keller an opening. Schmaltz turned and hit Keller in front, and Keller beat Georgiev over the glove on the backhand, tying the game up.

The game went into the second period tied up, with the Avalanche holding a 9-8 advantage in shots.

Second Period

The less said about the second period, the better. The first 60% of the period was low-event hockey to the max, with very little excitement.

In the second half of the period, the Avalanche got some momentum going, but couldn’t beat Vejmelka. Makar had the best chances, wiring one off the cross-bar, and getting robbed on a wrap-around after dancing through the defense. Rantanen got stopped on a very late breakaway, and the second period ended with the same score as the first.

Third Period

It was a similar start to the third period, as neither team was giving up a whole lot. That changed 25% of the way through the period, when the top line for the Avalanche got the first sustained offensive zone pressure of the pressure.

The extended shift in the offensive zone from the big guns eventually paid off. MacKinnon sent the puck to Makar at the point, and with Rantanen screening in front, Makar sent a wrist shot off the post and in, giving the Avalanche the one goal lead.

Makar’s goal created a lot of momentum for the Avalanche, who really started to take over the game. A strong offensive zone move by Nichushkin drew a penalty, and on the ensuing powerplay, the Avalanche capitalized again. Moments after MacKinnon sent a puck off the cross-bar, Makar put a low shot on net, and Vejmelka gave up a big rebound. J.T. Compher was there to bury his 16th of the year, and give the Avalanche a two-goal lead.

The rest of the period was more domination from the Avalanche, and they nearly had the empty netter, but Mikko Rantanen’s attempt was blocked…by the referee. If he ends the season with 49 goals, he may give that ref a call.

The horn sounded, and the Avalanche walked away with a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes. They held the away team to just 18 shots on net.

Now, the Avalanche will fly to Arizona to take on the Coyotes for the final time this season on Sunday. The game starts at 1 PM MST.

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