The Colorado Avalanche are on a roll.
After an okay start to their home opener, the Avalanche really cranked up their game, dominating the Chicago Blackhawks, and winning by a score of 4-0. At one point, Colorado were being outshot 8-7, but finished the game with a 41-18 shot advantage.
Logan O’Connor, Ryan Johansen, Devon Toews, and Nathan MacKinnon were the goal scorers for the home team. Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 18 shots he faced, continuing his fantastic start to the season.
The Avalanche, along with the Vegas Golden Knights, are the only unbeaten teams left in the Western Conference.
The building was buzzing for the opener, but early in the period, the Avalanche traded chances with the Blackhawks, forcing Alexandar Georgiev to be strong. That’s not a problem right now, because Georgiev is on a roll, and that continued early in the game.
The first stop he was forced to make was a breakaway by Nick Foligno, when his left pad stretched to keep the puck out. It looked like Chicago might keep the momentum, as they got the first powerplay, but Colorado had other ideas.
On the penalty kill, Andrew Cogliano and Josh Manson combined to shut down Chicago’s zone entry, creating a turnover. Logan O’Connor read the play perfectly, and burst up the middle of the ice, which was wide open. He was hit with a pass, and went in for a clean breakaway on Petr Mrazek. The speedy winger wired it over Mrazek’s glove, giving the Avalanche the lead on his second shorthanded goal in as many games.
The rest of the period belonged to the Avalanche.
Colorado dominated after the O’Connor goal, outshooting the Blackhawks 15-0 from that point on. An incredible shift by the fourth line drew a Blackhawks penalty, and the powerplay went to work.
Moments after Mikko Rantanen hit the post with a wide open net, a shooting gallery from Colorado resulted in Ryan Johansen’s first in an Avalanche uniform. Artturi Lehkonen’s initial attempts were stopped, but Johansen kept at it, smacking the puck out of mid-air past Mrazek, giving Colorado the 2-0 lead.
That domination continued after the goal, as the third line kept buzzing, but couldn’t find the back of the net. The buzzer sounded, and Colorado took that 2-0 lead into the second.
Perhaps the only downside to the first period was the lack of pressure from the top line. That lack of offense led to a switch-up in the second period, with Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Drouin switching spots. It did lead to some offense, but not from the top line…
It looked like Miles Wood would get his second goal of the year off a tremendous feed from Drouin, but the Blackhawks challenged the play for offsides, and got it right. Ross Colton just barely beat the puck over the blueline, nullifying the goal and keeping the Avalanche lead to just 2-0.
For a few moments, that is.
After an unsuccessful powerplay, a strong forecheck and smart pinch by Devon Toews led to the Avalanche getting that third goal. Nichushkin drew the defenders to him, and found Toews on the backdoor with a wide open net. Colton did a great job taking away the eyes of Mrazek, and the goaltender couldn’t keep up with the play.
The rest of the period was about team defense. Colorado continued to stifle Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks, giving them no room to work with. After two periods, the shots on goal were 32-15 in Colorado’s favor, and it felt even more lopsided than that.
The onslaught from Colorado didn’t stop in the third, and the top line finally got in on the action.
A Toews shot got stuck in some bodies around the net, and bounced free to Tatar. The Slovak winger made a quick pass to MacKinnon, who one-timed it over Mrazek’s blocker, extending the lead to 4-0
From there, the Avalanche would run out the clock, walking away with the shutout victory over the Blackhawks and holding Connor Bedard to zero shot attempts.
Georgiev was terrific in net again, and will likely play against Saturday, when the Avalanche host the Carolina Hurricanes.