In the Turning Point, we’ll take a look at one moment in the previous Colorado Avalanche game that changed the momentum of the game.
For the Avalanche right now, a two goal deficit in the road might seem insurmountable. After all, they haven’t scored a goal away from home in over three games. The reality is, in a two goal game, one goal gets you right back into it, so the game was still well within reach for Colorado in the second, even after giving up a goal halfway through the period.
A decision by the staff (and players) halfway through the powerplay worked against the Avalanche, and was compounded by some horrific decisions all over the ice.
Top Unit Stays On The Ice
With the top powerplay unit having already been on the ice for over a minute, Bednar and company had a choice to make.
Do we keep the top powerplay unit out there, or go with a fresh second unit?
The staff decided to keep their big guns out there. Not really a surprise, and I’m sure the top players had a say in the matter, but it ends up mattering in just a little bit…
Exhausted Players, Terrible Decisions
Now having been on the ice for over a minute and a half, the top unit is starting to wear down. Prior to this, the best chance on the powerplay came with Ryan Johansen just missing Mikko Rantanen with a no-look pass.
This whole thing starts with Rantanen trying to force a pass across the ice (on his backhand) to Nathan MacKinnon. That’s a difficult pass to make when you’re fresh, but extremely hard to make when you’re tired.
MacKinnon deserves credit here. While Rantanen slams his stick on the ice, MacKinnon busts his hump to get back and break up a potential 2-on-1, which he does. In doing so, he uses up most of his remaining energy, but still stays on the ice because he sees an offensive opportunity arise.
He completely whiffs on his chance, and now, the powerplay is over, and everyone on the ice is exhausted. You’ll notice that both Johansen and Artturi Lehkonen used this moment as an opportunity to change, but the players that replace them play an integral role in the impending disaster.
The Avalanche do eventually get the puck back, but Ross Colton, who is fresh, makes a horrific pass to Valeri Nichushkin, putting him in a tough spot. MacKinnon and Rantanen are heading to the bench, thinking their team has possession, but that’s quickly about to change. Nichushkin had the opportunity to just chip it out of the zone, but instead, tries to send it back to Toews. Even if this pass had gone through, the Avalanche might have been in trouble, because a tired Toews would have had to chase the puck down in the corner, as that bounce pass wasn’t going to find him.
Nichushkin’s pass is easily picked off, and it’s a 3-on-1 for Vegas against a helpless, exhausted Devon Toews. Alexandar Georgiev doesn’t make the stop, and it’s 3-0.
This still could have been a game, but the Avalanche completely fell apart at this point, and it was game over. An ugly series of events leading up to a goal that essentially put an end to the game.