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Colorado Avalanche

Winning Ugly: Georgiev, Avalanche Steal One From Kings, Win 4-3



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I’m sure the Colorado Avalanche, like every other team, would love to win every game by playing perfect hockey. Some nights you pull that off, but it’s rare. And some nights, you have to win ugly. Really ugly.

That’s exactly what the Avalanche did on Saturday night.

Led by Alexandar Georgiev, who kept his team in the game through a brutal first period, the Avalanche took two points from the Los Angeles Kings, winning by a score of 4-3. The Avalanche saved their best for the final period, as they were outshot a whopping 32-11 through two periods. Depth scoring led the way, as the top forwards on the Avalanche were held in check all night.

With the win, the Avalanche keep pace with Dallas and Minnesota, who both won earlier in the day. The victory ties them with Dallas at 102 points, but the Avalanche hold the current tie-breaker because of points percentage.

First Period

There will be no highlights from the Avalanche in the first, because they didn’t really show up. The only reason the game was still tied after one period was Alexandar Georgiev. He was hung out to dry by a team that couldn’t get the puck out of their own end, and couldn’t make any clean passes. On a late powerplay, the Kings got the best chance, as the Avalanche gave up a 2-on-0, but they couldn’t bury it.

Lucky to head into the intermission tied, the Avalanche needed to be much better in the second. They were…sort of.

Second Period

Luck was on the side of the Avalanche early in the period. They scored the first goal of the game off a fortuitous bounce off the end-glass. J.T. Compher let a shot go from the point, and Denis Malgin tipped it high. It bounced off the glass, off the top of the net, and off Copley and into the net. Somehow, after being dominated for 20 minutes, the Avalanche were up 1-0.

A minute later, they extended that lead. Alex Newhook, who had not scored in 20 games, took advantage of Sean Walker falling over in the neutral zone, giving him a clear breakaway. He didn’t look like a guy who hadn’t scored in over a month, as he put a slick move on Copley, beating him through the legs and giving the Avalanche a two goal lead.

Five minutes later, the Kings got one back, as their leading scorer Adrian Kempe scored a fantastic goal. He pulled the puck from his backhand to his forehand under pressure, and beat Georgiev far-side, cutting the lead to one.

The Kings tied it up at 12:55 of the period, after an offensive zone penalty by Rantanen gave the Kings a powerplay. Devon Toews was using Compher’s stick after his was broken in the corner, and the Kings took advantage. Eventually, Kempe sent a pass to the slot, and Viktor Arvidsson deflected it through Georgiev’s pads to make it a 2-2 game.

Third Period

To the credit of the Avalanche, after an ugly two periods, they dug a little deeper in the third, outshooting the Kings 12-9.

Lars Eller, who struggled most of the night, won a key face-off in the offensive zone back to Brad Hunt. The veteran ripped a shot that deflected off a Kings stick past Copley, restoring the lead for the Avalanche.

And less than five minutes later, the second line came up huge again.

Valeri Nichuhskin just outworked his man along the goal line, winning the puck back. After corralling the puck, he hit Malgin backdoor for his second of the game, giving the Avalanche the 4-2 lead.

Kempe scored again less than 30 seconds later to make the game interesting. After a tough read in the neutral zone by MacKinnon, the Kings entered the zone on a 4-on-2. His shot appeared to deflect off Girard’s stick, and beat Georgiev on the glove side. Just like that, the lead was down to one.

But they would hold on, thanks to some more big saves by Georgiev, including one with his head on Kempe with around five minutes remaining in the game.

Things got nasty at the end of the game, as Andrew Cogliano threw a high hit on Kempe that drew the ire of the Kings. Kempe appeared to be fine, as he and Rantanen jawed at each other after the game, and both earned 10 minute misconducts.

At that point, though, the game was over. The puck dropped with a few seconds left, and the Avalanche walked away with a massive 4-3 win. Did they deserve it? Maybe not, but at this point in the season, you don’t care.

The two points keeps the Avalanche in first place in the Central Division. There will be no time to rest, though, as they’re right back at it on Sunday night when they take on the Anaheim Ducks. The game starts at 6:30 MST.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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