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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Hold On For Win Over Ducks; Lose Byram In The Process




It got way closer than it should have been, but the Colorado Avalanche got back in the win column on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately, that win may have come with a price.

Nathan MacKinnon led a shorthanded Avalanche squad to a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, as he played a role in all three goals for the home team. Jonathan Drouin picked up two assists, and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced. The win is huge, as it stopped a three game slide, but there may be bigger concerns after the victory.

Already without Cale Makar and Sam Girard, the team lost Bowen Byram to an upper body injury on Tuesday. The young defenseman took a big hit from Max Jones and did not return for the third period. The good news is that Jared Bednar said the injury is not related to his head.

First Period

Jared Bednar really put the blender to all of his lines on Tuesday night. With no Andrew Cogliano and no Valeri Nichushkin, he had to make changes, but he didn’t make minor adjustments. He made wholesale changes.

These are the lines the Avalanche ran with:

Drouin – MacKinnon – O’Connor

Olausson – Colton – Rantanen

Wood – Johansen – Kiviranta

MacDermid – Olofsson – Tatar

And for the most part, these lines stuck together in the first period.

The Avalanche got on the board very early in the middle of a line change, and it came from perhaps their hottest goalscorer – Kurtis MacDermid.

Town and Country came off the bench, and somehow ended up on the ice with Nathan MacKinnon. In the defensive zone, he managed to hit MacKinnon with speed for a breakout, and then joined in. Once MacKinnon got in the offensive zone, he pulled up and hit a cutting MacDermid. The big man kicked the puck to his stick and wired a perfect shot over John Gibson’s shoulder, giving Colorado the early 1-0 lead. It would be MacDermid’s second goal in as many games, and his second goal is as many shots.

The rest of the period was a bit of a jumbled mess for Colorado, as you would expect from a team with a bunch of players that don’t typically play together. Anaheim controlled the majority of the play, but most of their chances came from the outside. Georgiev was there to stop whatever hit the net. Colorado’s best chance in the second half of the period came from Logan O’Connor, but he put his shot right into Gibson’s stomach after a drop pass from MacKinnon.

Anaheim held the lead in shots after one, but Colorado carried the 1-0 lead into the second period.

Second Period

The Avalanche continued to play sloppy for the first ten minutes of the second period, but still had some good looks. Tomas Tatar just missed the puck with an empty net, as the pass went right through him. Later, Josh Manson was stopped on a 2-on-1 by Gibson, and came back the other way to break up a 2-on-1 for the Ducks. After lifting Alex Killorn’s stick, he plastered the veteran winger into the boards.

Anaheim came close to tying the game after Pavel Mintyukov’s shot hit the goal post, but while it came close, the puck never crossed the goal line.

There wasn’t much emotion to the game until a big hit gave the game some energy. Max Jones caught Bowen Byram with his head down in the offensive zone, and Logan O’Connor did not like it. He went after Jones, who essentially turtled in the corner. On replay, the hit appeared to be clean, although their heads inadvertently collided, but it makes sense why O’Connor was not happy.

Colorado killed off the penalty, and gained some momentum from the strong penalty kill. An extended offensive zone shift by the trio of Miles Wood, Fredrik Olofsson, and Tomas Tatar created some momentum for the Avalanche, and the top line came on the ice and connected.

Josh Manson did a tremendous job keeping the puck in at the blueline with his glove, and immediately threw a puck towards the net. Jonathan Drouin deflected it on net, which created a rebound. Drouin sent a quick pass to a wide open MacKinnon at the left face-off circle, who buried it into an empty net, giving the Avalanche the two goal lead.

Drouin nearly made it a three goal lead a few minutes later, but Gibson was able to get his toe on a puck that looked like it was heading into a wide open net.

Third Period

At the start of the third period, there was no sign of Byram. Unfortunately, the Avalanche announced that he will not return to the game due to an upper body injury. We’ll continue to monitor any updates on his health.

Six minutes into the period, the makeshift top line of the Avalanche extended the lead to three.

After a nice shift in the offensive zone, Drouin sent a bounce pass behind the net to MacKinnon, who spun away from his defender. He sent a spinning backhand to the net, and O’Connor jammed away at the rebound. His rebound attempt snuck through Gibson’s legs, and he put the puck into the back of the net, giving the Avalanche the 3-0 lead.

At that point, the game should have been over. Colorado got a powerplay soon after, and a chance to extend the lead even more. Instead, they gave the Ducks life.

Mikko Rantanen had the puck taken off his stick in the neutral zone, giving Sam Carrick a breakaway. The Ducks forward barely snuck the puck past Georgiev, and the Ducks suddenly had energy.

Less than four minutes later, Fredrik Olofsson tripped up Leo Carlsson, and was called for a penalty. For whatever reason, MacDermid went after Carlsson and pinned him against the boards. Given there was no reason to do that at all, I’m not sure what the intention was here. Either way, the refs called MacDermid for a penalty, giving the Ducks a 5-on-3.

Carlsson scored on that 5-on-3, and the once three goal lead was down to just one for Colorado.

Luckily, that’s as close as the Ducks would get. Georgiev made a huge save on Strome, who was left alone in the slot, and that sealed the victory for Colorado.

The Avalanche will continue their homestand on Thursday when the Winnipeg Jets come to town. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

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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