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Colorado Avalanche

Back to Life: Avalanche Recover From Blown Lead, Win 5-4 in Overtime




The Colorado Avalanche are hunting for home-ice advantage in the Western Conference, but they sure know how to pull out wins on the road.

After blowing a two goal lead and giving up four consecutive goals to the lowly Anaheim Ducks, the stars woke up, scoring three straight powerplay goals for the Avalanche on their way to a 5-4 overtime victory. The win marked the 10th consecutive road win for the team, which is a new franchise record. Nathan MacKinnon, Devon Toews, and Mikko Rantanen combined for 10 points, most of which came after the second period, in the victory. Pavel Francouz, in his first game in over two months, stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced.

With the win, the Avalanche move into complete control of first place in the Central Division. This was their game in-hand on Dallas and Minnesota, and they took advantage, even if things got hairy late.

First Period

Both teams lacked energy in the first period. In total, there were nine minutes of powerplay time, including two 5-on-3’s for the Avalanche, but neither team capitalized. The Avalanche did hit three posts on their powerplays, but struggled to hit the net most of the time.

One night after carrying the offense against the Kings, the second line came through again. The play started with a nice breakout pass from Denis Malgin, which elicited a large “Oh yeah!” from someone on the bench. Jack Johnson carried the puck into the zone, then dropped it off to his partner, Erik Johnson. His pass to the front of the net found its way to Valeri Nichushkin, who whiffed on his shot. The puck slid to J.T. Compher at the side of the net. Compher fanned on his first shot, but had so much time that he was able to corral it again and shoot it into the empty net, giving the Avalanche the one goal lead.

They carried that lead into the second period.

Second Period

The Avalanche had their chances early in the second to extend their lead, but were unable to find the back of the net. Lars Eller was stopped on a clear breakaway, and Nathan MacKinnon was stopped on a 2-on-1, as Dostal was up for the challenge on both occasions.

Mikko Rantanen, however, did break through later in the period to give the Avalanche a two goal lead. The top line finally had some sustained offensive zone pressure, and it eventually paid off. Sam Girard sent the puck to Rantanen on the left wall, and he cut to the middle of the ice around his defender. On his backhand, he weaved into the slot and fired a shot past Dostal for his 53rd goal of the year.

That two goal lead, however, was very short-lived. Just 77 seconds later, Frank Vatrano beat Francouz on a one-timer, after he made a great play to keep the puck in at the blueline. Three minutes later, Adam Henrique tied the game up at two, as he stripped the puck off Rantanen in his end, and had a clear breakaway up the ice. He deked to his backhand and beat Francouz for his 22nd of the year.

Just like the night before, the Avalanche had blown a two goal lead, and needed to just win the third period to walk away with crucial points.

Third Period

The start of the third period went as poorly as it could have for the Avalanche. The Ducks got two early goals to go up by two, really putting the pressure on the road team. On the third Ducks goal, Vatrano snuck away from Girard up top and sent a shot that snuck through Francouz. And on the fourth goal, the puck bounced off Girard and into the net.

The defenseman got some revenge, though, as he drew the penalty that helped get the Avalanche back into the game.

On that ensuing powerplay, the Avalanche went to work with some quick passing. Toews sent it to MacKinnon, who fired a quick pass across the ice to Rantanen. He wired a one-timer past Dostal for his 54th of the year, bringing the Avalanche within one. With that goal, he now ties Joe Sakic for the most goals in a season with the Avalanche. With three games remaining, he may just break that record.

The Ducks continued to get themselves in penalty trouble, as they took two more penalties, giving the Avalanche more chances to tie the game up. And they did just that.

This time, it was Nathan MacKinnon. The superstar was robbed moments before on a bouncing puck in front, but on this goal, he let a bomb go from the left circle. It beat Dostal on the glove side, tying the game at four.

After looking like they were about to blow a game to a team trying to lose, the Avalanche clawed their way back to get a point. But to pad their lead in the Central Division, they needed another one.


In overtime, the Avalanche had some chances, including Evan Rodrigues in front, but couldn’t bury anything. Then, the Ducks took ANOTHER penalty.

That’s all the Avalanche needed.

On that powerplay, Nathan MacKinnon put an end to the game. He and Toews played give-and-go up top, and he wired another one-timer past Dostal for the 5-4 victory. The powerplay that had struggled in the first period scored three goals to eventually win the game for the Avalanche.

Just like the night before, it wasn’t pretty, but with the win, the Avalanche moved two points up on Dallas in the Central Division. It was another perfect road trip at 4-0, and their 10th straight road win, which is a new franchise record.

They’ll now head home for a day off before taking on the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. The game starts at 7:30 PM 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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