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Avalanche Overcome Questionable Ejection, Beat Canucks 5-2



Avalanche Riley Tufte

For the second time in a few weeks, the Colorado Avalanche had to fight through one of their players getting ejected in the second period.

And for the second time this year, they overcame the adversity, walking away with a victory on home ice.

On Wednesday night, that win came over the Vancouver Canucks, one of the hottest teams in the league to start the year. The Avalanche showed the Canucks how to close out a game in the third period, just a few days after blowing a lead in Nashville, and did so with just five defenseman. The home team was forced to play shorthanded for half the game, as Josh Manson was ejected in the second on a questionable call.

Valeri Nichushkin, Jonathan Drouin, Riley Tufte, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen scored the goals for Colorado. Alexandar Georgiev had perhaps his strongest showing in weeks, stopping 27 of the 29 shots Vancouver sent his way.

First Period

Everyone came in expected a high scoring, high flying affair, and it didn’t exactly start out that way. The first 10-12 minutes of the game were the two teams feeling each other out. Not terribly surprising given they hadn’t seen each other yet.

Once the Avalanche got their first powerplay, things really picked up.

Colorado didn’t capitalize on their first attempt with the man advantage, and the Canucks got a breakaway as soon as it ended. Georgiev came up big, stopping that breakaway, but soon after, the Canucks got on the scoreboard first.

A big defensive breakdown in the Avalanche end led to Josh Manson having to defend a 2-on-1 down low. Beauvillier snuck a pass through to Hoglander, who was allowed to take the puck to the net without resistance. His initial shot hit the post, but he still had plenty of time to hit the rebound home, giving the road team the early 1-0 lead.

It wouldn’t take long for the Avalanche to tie the game up, though.

On another powerplay, Jonathan Drouin and Mikko Rantanen switched spots, putting Rantanen on the goal line. Rantanen waited out the Canucks defender, and sauced a pass to Valeri Nichushkin, who was left wide open in front. The red-hot Russian hit home his eighth goal of the year, tying the game up at one.

It proved to be a big assist for Drouin, who passed up a great shooting opportunity on the first powerplay. Before the goal, he spent the entire commercial break looking at the iPad to see what he could correct. It worked, and he carried that momentum over into another shift.

A nice zone entry by Tomas Tatar led to some great work by Bowen Byram and Cale Makar, as they switched spots on the blueline. Byram hit Makar for a one-time shot, and Drouin timed his screen perfectly, deflecting home his second of the year, giving the Avalanche the 2-1 lead.

Georgiev was forced to make a massive save with under 15 seconds left, stoning a wide open Joshua with his left pad. Seeing as the Avalanche had given up multiple late period goals against the Predators, getting a save here looked huge at the time.

Second Period

I don’t even want to discuss the second period. It was one of the worst periods of hockey I’ve seen in a long time. I guess if you like penalties, no flow, and the refs stealing the show, it was the period for you, but I don’t think many like that.

The big story from period two was the controversial ejection of Josh Manson for cross-checking. It came after a lengthy review of at least two minutes, and the refs spent the rest of the period evening things up. Manson definitely got him in the face, but didn’t extend his arms, and didn’t even appear to be looking at Boeser, so I don’t see any intent. Very different from the cross-checking ejection Colton took a few weeks back.

The only goal of the game came during some brief 4-on-4 action, as J.T. Miller outmuscled Devon Toews on a one-on-one rush and beat Georgiev on the short side, tying the game at two.

Beyond that, the less said about that period, the better.

Third Period

Early in the third, during this rare thing known as 5-on-5 hockey, the Avalanche took the lead. The goal scorer is someone who got the call just a few hours before the start of the game.

Riley Tufte parked all of his 6’7″ body in front of the net, outmuscling his defender and deflecting home a Miles Wood wrist shot, giving the Avalanche the 3-2 lead. It was his first goal in a Colorado uniform, and just his second in the NHL.

The Canucks had a small push after the Tufte goal, but couldn’t solve Georgiev.

Then, with less than eight minutes remaining, the fans were treated by the Cale Makar show.

After MacKinnon blocked a shot in the defensive zone, the puck came to J.T. Miller. He tried to dangle Makar at the offensive blueline.

Bad idea.

Makar poked it away from him, and was off on a clean breakaway. He entered the zone, picked high glove, and put it off Demko’s glove and in, giving the Avalanche the lead and sending the crowd into an absolute frenzy. I’m not sure Ball Arena has been louder this year.

It should be noted that after the game, MacKinnon was seen going to get x-rays. Bednar did not have an update on his status.

After the Makar goal, the Canucks wilted, and didn’t put up much of a fight. Rantanen added an empty netter, giving Colorado the 5-2 victory.

The Avalanche now sit at 12-6 on the year, and head into their first back-to-back of the season. They’ll play the Wild in Minnesota on Friday, then come home and host the Flames on Saturday night.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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