When the Colorado Avalanche signed Miles Wood this summer, these are the types of games they envisioned him playing. He won’t admit it, but maybe there was some extra motivation playing against his former team.
The 28 year old forward played fast, played physical, and scored a huge shorthanded goal in the second period, helping the Avalanche remain unbeaten at home on their way to a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. That shorthanded goal saved the Avalanche a bit, as it came during a seven minute powerplay for the Devils in the second. Once that powerplay ended, it was all Avalanche, as they scored three consecutive goals in the third period to come away with the victory.
Wood, Mikko Rantanen, Ross Colton, Ryan Johansen, and Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced, and was strong in net when he was needed in the third period.
The trend of the Avalanche starting the game really slow continued. For the first half of the period, the play was mostly controlled by the Devils, with some of their chances coming off turnovers by the home team.
New Jersey got on the board first after Manson slipped into the boards off a dump-in. The Devils recovered the puck, and John Marino found a wide open Tyler Toffoli at the side of the net, who made it 1-0.
Colorado’s first powerplay was an ugly mess. Failed zone entries didn’t allow the top unit to set up at all, and when the second unit got on the ice, they couldn’t hit the net.
They made up for it with a much better powerplay a few minutes later. Mikko Rantanen, who had some of the best looks for the team in period one, deflected home a Makar pass at the side of the net, tying the game at one. It’s a play Rantanen works on consistently at practice, so it’s not a huge surprise that it worked (again) in a game.
That goal gave the Avalanche some life, as they generated some more chances late in the period, led by the hard work of Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin, but Vanecek held his ground in net, keeping the score tied at one.
The first period was relatively tame. The second period was pure chaos.
A little over two minutes into the period, the third line gave the Avalanche the lead. Logan O’Connor blocked a shot in the defensive zone, and Miles Wood’s speed was showcased. The former Devils forward cut to the middle of the ice and put a backhand on net. Vanecek let out a big, fat rebound into the slot, which Colton was there to clean up.
After that goal, the period got a little out of control. Wood plastered his former teammate Jonas Seigenthaler into the boards, and Dougie Hamilton was not happy about it, hitting Wood from behind and taking a penalty. Kevin Bahl took a penalty pretty quickly after this, giving the Avalanche a 5-on-3.
Did the Avalanche take advantage of that 5-on-3? Not even close. Cale Makar immediately turned it over, the Avalanche never really got set up. Once they did get the puck back, they were called for too many men on the ice. That would have been okay by itself, but things compounded pretty quickly.
While forechecking, Colton sent Luke Hughes into the boards with a heavy hit, and was given a boarding minor. Colton anticipated some retaliation from Timo Meier, and put his stick up to protect himself. Unfortunately for him, he cross-checked Meier in the face. Whether he meant to do it or not, he did it, and was given a five minute major and game misconduct, ending his night.
New Jersey scored pretty quickly on their 5-on-3, as Meier got some revenge, beating Georgiev low. With over six minutes remaining in their powerplay, things could have gotten out of hand really quickly, but the Devils were generous with the shorthanded rushes, and Miles Wood took advantage.
The Avalanche forward was given a clean breakaway from center ice, and able to pick his spot. He beat Vanecek on the glove side, restoring the one goal lead for Colorado.
The Colton penalties loomed large, as the Devils still had several minutes remaining on their powerplay. Hamilton tied the game with a shot from the point, but all things considered, the Avalanche had to be happy escaping the period in a tie game.
Getting out of the second period tied, after having to kill a seven minute powerplay, seemed to give Colorado life, and they came out flying in the third.
Nathan MacKinnon hit the post on an odd-man rush early in the session, but he’d get his revenge later in the period. New Jersey was sloppy defensively all night, and 7:37 into the third, they gave the Avalanche a gift.
Chris Tierney’s pass in the defensive zone missed a Devils player in the slot, and landed right on the stick of Ryan Johansen. The veteran forward collected it, and beat Vanecek for his first even strength goal of the year, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Just over two minutes later, MacKinnon broke through the Devils defense, beating Vanecek on a mini-breakaway, giving Colorado the 5-3 lead.
Georgiev made his biggest stop of the third on Dougie Hamilton, who pinched down from the point for a one-time chance, which hit the Avalanche goaltender in the belly. After that, the Devils didn’t have much left in the tank, as they generated just five shots on goal in the final period.
Rantanen added an empty net goal, and Colorado walked away with the 6-3 victory.
Colorado will be able to sleep in their own beds a little bit this week, as they’ll be home until Sunday afternoon. On Thursday, they host the Seattle Kraken at Ball Arena, and they look to remain unbeaten at home. That game starts at 7 PM MST.