Kurtis MacDermid doesn’t score a lot of goals, but when the Colorado Avalanche needed a hero in the third period, he was there for them, cape and all.
The 6’5″ winger, playing just his fourth game of the season, scored a beautiful goal early in the third for the road team that ended up being the difference, as the Avalanche walked away with a 3-2 victory over the struggling Minnesota Wild. MacDermid playing at all was a bit of a surprise, as Jared Bednar scratched veteran Tomas Tatar in favor of the enforcer, but it ended up being the right decision. Bednar wants to keep getting MacDermid in the lineup so he’s not sitting for an extended period of time, so it does make some sense that he’d use him in a back-to-back situation.
In addition to MacDermid, Ross Colton and Valeri Nichushkin scored goals for Colorado.
Alexandar Georgiev stopped 19 of the 21 shots the Wild sent his way, and seems to be bouncing back a little bit after struggling for a long stretch.
There was not a lot of hate between these two teams in period one. Maybe because the Avalanche don’t typically focus on that type of game, and the Wild are stuck in a rut, but the start of the game was relatively tame.
Colorado played okay for the first few minutes of the game, according to their head coach, but when Jonathan Drouin took a penalty halfway through the period, their game picked up. Minnesota’s best scoring opportunity on the powerplay came from Matt Boldy, but the young forward has been ice cold to start the season, and Georgiev was up to the task.
After that powerplay, Minnesota really didn’t generate much. In fact, in the final 10 minutes of the period, they only sent one shot towards Georgiev.
With under three minutes remaining, the Avalanche got on the board first, thanks to one of their defensemen joining the rush.
Riley Tufte made a nice play exiting the zone, hitting a pinching Bowen Byram. The defenseman gained the blueline, backed off the defenseman, and dropped it off to Ross Colton, who had plenty of time. Colton picked his spot, and labeled a shot on the far side of the net, giving Colorado the 1-0 lead.
There must be something about second periods and penalties with this Avalanche team, because they can’t seem to stay out of the box during the middle session.
Just 1:03 into the second, Colton high-sticked Joel Eriksson-Ek 200 feet from his own net, knocking some of his teeth out. That resulted in a four minute powerplay for Minnesota, but the Wild’s own undisciplined play actually turned it into an Avalanche powerplay.
On that powerplay, the hottest player on the team stayed red-hot. Nathan MacKinnon wound up from the top of the left circle for a one-timer, and his shot bounced off Valeri Nichushkin and into the back of the net, giving the Avalanche the two goal lead. For Nichushkin, it would be his ninth goal of the season, and his eight in eight games.
It didn’t take long for the Wild to get on the scoreboard, though. 34 seconds, to be exact. It actually looked like the Avalanche were going to escape a 4-on-2 rush unscathed, but Tufte failed to recover the puck off a bounce, giving the Wild another crack at it. Marco Rossi shot the puck towards Georgiev, and Kirill Kaprizov deflected it through the goaltenders legs, cutting the lead in half.
Penalty trouble came back to bite the Avalanche five minutes later. Caleb Jones took a holding penalty off the rush, and then Bowen Byram took a delay of game penalty for the second straight night, giving the Wild a 5-on-3. The Avalanche did a good job killing off the two man advantage, but as soon as Jones came out of the box, Eriksson-Ek tied the game up after outmuscling Josh Manson in front of the net.
The game went into the third period tied at two. Who would end up being the hero?
That’s right. The hero the team needed ended up being the often scratched enforcer, making the most of his 3:30 of ice time.
The big man found himself all alone in front of the net after a nice feed by Andrew Cogliano. MacDermid, who entered the game with just nine career NHL goals, deked Gustavsson out of his jock and beat him on the backhand, giving the Avalanche the 3-2 lead. After the game, MacDermid jokingly said he had an “out of body experience” making the move on the goal.
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From that point on, the Wild had some chances, but Georgiev stood tall, including a big side-to-side save halfway through the period on a wide open Eriksson-Ek. Luckily for the Avalanche, the Wild were very undisciplined in the third, as they took two penalties in the final eight minutes of the game to help Colorado kill some time.
The Wild did manage to get a powerplay of their own, but they performed so poorly on it that the home crowd began to boo them. With how much the team is struggling right now, you have to wonder if Bill Guerin looks to make a move soon to shake things up.
Colorado walked out of Minnesota with a 3-2 victory, and with the win, now move into a three-way tie for first place in the Central Division. All of the Avalanche, Stars, and Jets sit with 26 points through 19 games.
The Avalanche will be right back at it on Saturday night, as they fly home to host the Calgary Flames at Ball Arena. That game starts at 8 PM MST.