On Saturday night, one team looked primed for another run at the Stanley Cup, and the other team looked like a group that has a long way to go. You can probably guess which one was the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche didn’t start poorly, but they sure finished that way. The Vegas Golden Knights scored three goals in just over four minutes in the second period on their way to a 7-0 victory over Colorado. After the second Vegas goal, it really fell apart for the Avalanche. An embarrassing night for the road team, who have now been shutout in three of their last four games, including each of their last three games away from Ball Arena.
Alexandar Georgiev was in net for all seven goals, and stopped just 27 of the 34 shots he faced. It wasn’t all on him, though. The team in front of him was poor, and there will be plenty for the coaching staff to clean up when they return to practice on Monday.
When you’re in Vegas, the last thing you want to do is give the Golden Knights some early powerplays to get the building on their side.
That’s exactly what the Avalanche did. Fortunately for them, a rested Alexandar Georgiev was up to the task, as he stopped everything the Golden Knights threw his way…which was a lot. They weren’t shy about throwing the puck at the net, but Georgiev was strong. He got a little help with two tremendous plays on the backdoor by Logan O’Connor and Miles Wood to break up plays, and Colorado killed both penalties off.
The puck started moving the other way, as at even strength, the Avalanche were the better team. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t find a way to get anything past Adin Hill, as the Vegas goaltender made some nice glove stops on Nathan MacKinnon.
On an Avalanche powerplay late in the period, it was actually Vegas that got on the board, taking advantage of an injured Cale Makar. The defenseman seemed to catch a rut on the ice, and went down awkwardly. He couldn’t quite get off the ice, but also couldn’t really do anything defensively, leaving Mark Stone all alone in front for an easy tap-in goal, giving Vegas the 1-0 lead.
That was all the scoring there would be in the first, as Vegas took that one goal lead into the next period.
Like they did in period one, the Avalanche played well at 5-on-5, controlling most of the zone time, but the Golden Knights did a good job of keeping pretty much everything to the outside.
And on their first real opportunity of the second period, the Golden Knights took advantage. Jack Eichel escaped Valeri Nichushkin in the neutral zone, and found himself all alone with speed on Georgiev. The Vegas sniper wired a shot over Georgiev’s blocker, making it 2-0.
The Avalanche did have a chance to get back on the board, but couldn’t find the net on the powerplay. The star players stayed out for the entirety of that powerplay, which led to some issues once it ended. Colorado had an easy chance to breakout of their own zone, but Ross Colton sent a pass behind Valeri Nichushkin. The big Russian went to regroup, but was far too casual about it, turning it over. About three seconds later, the puck was in the back of the Avalanche net, and it was 3-0. An ugly effort that was really just a sign of things to come.
Eichel added another goal on the powerplay soon after, and a game that was once close looked to be completely out of reach for the Avalanche.
If you thought it might get better in the third period, you thought wrong.
Mark Stone scored another shorthanded goal, William Karlsson beat Georgiev far too easily through the five-hole, and then added another late when the Avalanche were scrambling around in their own end. Valeri Nichushkin, usually very reliable in his own end, was so bad that he found himself demoted to the fourth line by Jared Bednar.
Vegas walked away with a 7-0 win, and the Avalanche should walk away embarrassed by their performance. As soon as the score hit 3-0, the effort didn’t seem to be there from most of the lineup.
Colorado will catch a break on Tuesday, as they’ll return home to face the New Jersey Devils, who will likely be without their top two centers. That game starts at 8 PM MST.