Yes, the Colorado Avalanche can still score goals.
And their new goaltender, at least for one night, appears as though he can stop them.
Backstopped by newcomer Ivan Prosvetov, the Avalanche found their scoring touch, getting goals from four different players on their way to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Ross Colton, Mikko Rantanen, Artturi Lehkonen, and Bowen Byram added the goals, but the big story was their goaltender.
Ivan Prosvetov, making his first start in an Avalanche uniform, stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced, and looked good in the process. He out-dueled the other number 50 at the other end, Jordan Binnington, and likely earned himself some more playing time in the future.
Colorado got off to a pretty slow start, not registering a shot on net for the first six minutes of the game. The Blues tested Prosvetov early, as Jordan Kyrou hit a streaking Brayden Schenn early, but Prosvetov got over to make the stop.
Earlier in the day, Ross Colton told me he didn’t keep the puck from his first Avalanche goal last week. Now, he has a puck he can keep.
After a misplay in the defensive zone, Colton blocked a shot at the point. Miles Wood hit him in the neutral zone, and he sped past Blues defenseman Tyler Tucker. The center used his body to protect the puck, moved it to his forehand, and beat Binnington low on the blocker side, giving the Avalanche the 1-0 lead. You could see the relief on Colton’s face afterwards, as this goal certainly mattered more than his empty netter against the Islanders.
About four minutes later, Artturi Lehkonen drew a penalty in the neutral zone, giving the Avalanche a powerplay. MacKinnon recovered the puck behind Binnington, sending it to Rantanen along the wall, who played give-and-go with Cale Makar at the point. Rantanen used both Lehkonen and Johansen as a screen, beating Binnington over the glove.
The Blues did challenge the goal, as they believed the Johansen played the puck with a high stick about 5 seconds before Rantanen scored, but the goal was upheld.
Prosvetov was strong the rest of the period, stopping all 8 shots he faced, and Colorado carried a two goal lead into the second.
Colorado didn’t have their “A” game in the first period, and they certainly didn’t in the second. Sloppy play, forced passes, and unforced errors were the name of the game.
The bright spot in period two was Riley Tufte, at least to start the period. In the first six minutes, he registered three shots on goal, all of which came on pretty good looks. Beyond that, Colorado didn’t generate much offensively.
At the other end, Prosvetov was solid. He was square to the puck, and didn’t give up very many rebounds. His best save came halfway through the period, when the Blues got the puck off a turnover, forcing the goaltender to flash the leather.
With a little over two minutes remaining in the second, the Blues got on the board. Lehkonen blew a tire in the offensive zone and slid into Binnington in the net. That seemed to knock the wind out of him, as he skated to the bench slowly. Meanwhile, the Blues were sprung for an odd-man rush the other way. The puck eventually came to Robert Thomas, who fired a shot over Prosvetov’s shoulder, cutting the Avalanche lead to one.
Josh Manson took a late penalty, forcing Colorado to kill another penalty. The Blues didn’t score on the first 54 seconds, and carried the remaining 1:06 into the third.
Colorado killed the rest of Manson’s penalty, and then it was the Cale Makar show.
Makar stole a pass in the neutral zone, and then flew into the offensive zone, hitting a trailing Lehkonen for a chance. That shot was stopped, but play continued, and Makar was everywhere. It eventually came to Rantanen behind the net, who found a streaking Makar at the right hash. The superstar defenseman sent a quick pass to a wide open Lehkonen in front, who buried it behind Binnington, restoring the two goal lead for the Avalanche.
Colorado added a fourth goal off a Brayden Schenn turnover. He gifted a puck to MacKinnon in the offensive zone, who faked like he was going to shoot, then fed Bowen Byram on the backdoor, making it 4-1.
The Blues didn’t have much fight left in them the rest of the period, and Colorado walked away with the 4-1 victory.
Colorado was much better in the third period, and they’ll need to carry that over to their next game, as they’ll take on the defending Stanley Cup champs on Saturday in Vegas. That game starts at 8:00 PM MST.