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Avalanche Head Home For The Holidays With Convincing Win Over Coyotes



Avalanche Miles Wood

Colorado Avalanche players gave head coach Jared Bednar the best early Christmas present he could ask for – a complete second period. Now, the team can enjoy their break knowing they did what they needed to do.

The Avalanche, who have struggled mightily in the second period this year, dominated the Coyotes in the middle session, scoring three goals on their way to a 4-1 victory. Perhaps the best part of it all is that they didn’t have to rely on their top line to do it all, as the depth chipped in with three of the four goals. Nathan MacKinnon picked up an assist to continue his point streak, and both Fredrik Olofsson and Logan O’Connor added two points.

Alexandar Georgiev was great in net, stopping 24 of the 25 Arizona shots.

First Period

Hours away from a few days off, both teams looked like they had checked out just a little bit.

While there were rush opportunities on both sides, neither team was really able to connect, as the passing wasn’t quite there. Arizona, in particular, struggled to connect on that “final” pass, often throwing it into the feet of their own skater. That led them to being held off the scoresheet.

The Avalanche got the first powerplay of the game, after Clayton Keller high-sticked Jonathan Drouin, and while Colorado didn’t score with the man advantage, they got close. Just seconds after Keller came out of the box, Ross Colton tried to connect with Ryan Johansen in the slot. He was covered, but it slid past and landed right on the stick of Bowen Byram. The young defenseman had time to walk in, and beat Ingram over the glove, making it 1-0. On the replay, it looked like his shot actually went through Bjugstad’s legs, making the shot even more impressive.

The rest of the period was quiet. Georgiev’s best stop came on Lawson Crouse, who danced past Jack Johnson for a decent look, but the Avalanche netminder held strong.

With the 1-0 lead, it was time for Avalanche fans to hold their breath, because Colorado’s greatest enemy was up next – the second period.

Second Period

And for one evening, the Avalanche were able to conquer their greatest enemy. The home team came out fast, crisp, and physical in the second period, and the Coyotes did not have an answer.

After a relatively sleepy first period, the intensity really started to pick up, and all of that started with a huge hit from Miles Wood. The veteran forward plastered J.J. Moser along the boards with a clean hit, knocking the Coyotes defenseman out of the game. Wood was forced to answer the bell later in the period, as he and Crouse went toe-to-toe with a slobberknocker of a fight. The fans loved it, but not even that fight could get the Coyotes into the game.

Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to an NHL-best 18 games early in the period, as a beautiful passing play wound up on the stick of Valeri Nichushkin, who wired a one-timer over Ingram’s shoulder. The combination of that goal and the Wood hit seemed to anger the Coyotes, who were more focused on hacking and whacking than getting the puck.

In the back half of the second, it was the depth that stepped up for Colorado.

13 minutes into the period, a breakout started by Alexandar Georgiev led to an odd-man rush for Colorado. The late man jumping into the play was Josh Manson, and Fredrik Olofsson made no mistake finding him. Manson skated in a little bit and beat Ingram over the glove, making it 3-0. It was clear the Avalanche were targeting a very specific spot on Ingram, as he was beat with a similar shot on each of the first three goals.

With under 10 seconds left in the period, the fourth line decided to go globetrotters on the Coyotes.

A Logan O’Connor pass deflected in front to Andrew Cogliano. Without looking, Cogliano sent a behind the back backhand pass underneath Matt Dumba’s legs, right onto the stick of Olofsson, who made it 4-0. A beautiful goal from some of the grunt workers on the team, and a perfect end to the period for the home team.

Third Period

With a four goal lead, you want your third period to be clean and efficient so that everyone can get out of the game, especially with a break coming up. The Avalanche almost did that.

With Nichushkin in the box halfway through the period, Georgiev had his best stretch of saves, one coming with the glove, and another with the right pad. The fans made sure to give him some love afterwards, as “Georgie” chants started and continued during the next commercial break.

Unfortunately, the Coyotes broke his shutout late in the third period with Miles Wood in the box, but it was still a fantastic night for the goaltender. He shut the door the rest of the way, and the Avalanche walked into the break with a 4-1 victory.

Colorado will now get their mandatory three days off before heading to Arizona for a rematch on Wednesday. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

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