As with every game, you take the good with the bad, so time to take a look at the pluses and the minuses in the game against the Ducks for the Avalanche.
– Four Consecutive Goals Against
What the heck was that? That is a Ducks team that is actively trying to lose, and the Avalanche almost gave them the game.
The first two goals against were just sloppy play defensively, and soft. Vatrano somehow keeps the puck in at the blueline on the first goal because Eller looked to be cheating a bit for the steal, and got himself on the wrong side of the puck. Newhook just kind of swings at the puck, and next thing you know, it’s in the back of the net. On the second goal Rantanen just skates himself into trouble and makes a bad decision.
Then in the third period, Girard loses his man up high for the goal (wasn’t a huge fan of the goal getting past Francouz), but it was an extended shift where the Avalanche were stuck in their own end chasing for a while. And he gets beat to the net on the fourth, with some bad luck of it bouncing off him and in.
The reality is, this game could have been over in the first period. The Avalanche had multiple 5-on-3’s in the first, and didn’t capitalize. If they get up on that Ducks team big early, they’re not coming back. Instead, they let them hang around, and the Ducks made them pay.
It’s great that they came back to win, but they had to expend a lot of energy to do it. Toews played over 30 minutes, and Rantanen and MacKinnon both topped 25. This was supposed to be the easiest game on the schedule left, and they made themselves work for it.
+ Pavel Francouz Returns
Do I think Francouz had a particularly good game? No, not really. Four goals on 23 shots is just not good enough, especially against an Anaheim team that isn’t very good. But it was his first game in over two months, so I had lower expectations. It’s just nice to have a backup option again behind Georgiev that the staff trusts. I imagine Francouz will start one of the final three games to get more game action in just in case he’s needed in the postseason.
– The Local Blackout
What was that? This game was listed as being broadcast on TNT everywhere I looked. NHL.com said TNT and made no mention of Altitude. Then, the early game before ends, and they make it seem like they’re cutting to the Avalanche game, only for it to be blacked out. I heard from a lot of angry fans at the start of the game, and it’s just incredibly frustrating that a game labeled Nationally was blacked out. That’s how you push fans away from the game.
+ The Powerplay Redeems Themselves
Sure, the powerplay hit some posts in the first period on their chances, but the post is considered a missed shot for a reason. It’s not a goal, so you can’t look at it like it should have been one.
Luckily for the Avalanche, the Ducks made sure the powerplay got plenty of chances to redeem themselves. And they finally did in the third period. The quick movement on the Rantanen goal was great, and MacKinnon put everything he had into his first goal after whiffing on an empty net in front moments before scoring. Then you have the 4-on-3 in overtime to win it, which is MacKinnon just powering one through Dostal. The stars were having another sleepy night until they let it rip on some late powerplays.
+ Lars Eller
Maybe Eller just needs to stay away from Cogliano and O’Connor. I didn’t like him on the first goal against, but he looked better away from the two energy wingers. He just can’t score. You could see the frustration on his face after he was stopped on a breakaway. It’s been a struggle to produce, but I liked his game between Newhook and Meyers.
– Denis Malgin’s Ice Time
I thought Malgin was good again, and the special teams in the game had something to do with this, but Malgin finished dead last on the forward group in even strength time-on-ice, just one night after scoring two goals. It’s really tough because that second line was, again, probably their most consistent line from start to finish.
+ J.T. Compher
It felt like Compher’s game had slowed down a bit of late, especially with creating offense, but I loved his game against the Ducks. He might have been their most consistent forward from start to finish. He had a sequence in the third period where he and Shattenkirk got into it behind the Ducks net. Shattenkirk knocked him down, and Compher got up and gave him a good cross-check to the back. The refs let everything go, but Compher soon out-worked Shattenkirk to the puck, chipping it out front to Nichushkin for a great chance. He’s a different player when he’s getting under the oppositions skin.
+ The Superstar Duo
For a lot of the game, the duo of Rantanen and MacKinnon looked like they might be held in check for the second straight game. Neither of them looked particularly good, but showed a flash in the second period on the shift that led to Rantanen’s first goal. Then, they kind of disappeared again.
But once the game got to 4-2 Ducks, they decided they had enough, and just showed their dominance. Three points each in a little over 12 minutes at the end of the third and in overtime. It just goes to show that you can only hold these guys down for so long, and if you keep giving them chances (like the Ducks did on the powerplay), they’ll make you pay eventually.
Now the Avalanche have a 100 point duo for the first time since Sakic and Forsberg did it back in 1995/96. When these two retire, will they be looked at the same way those two are in Colorado? Maybe, maybe not. They’re certainly closing the gap with each passing year.