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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Close Out 2023 On A High Note With Win Over Sharks




2023 has come and gone, and the Colorado Avalanche closed it out with the one thing they cared about – a victory.

It probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was, but in the end, it will show up as a victory on the calendar, and that’s all that matters. The Avalanche outshot the San Jose Sharks by a count of 33-11 on their way to a 3-1 win at home. Nathan MacKinnon picked up two assists, extending his home point streak to 19 games. Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin, and Josh Manson were the goalscorers for Colorado.

Alexandar Georgiev was awoken from his mid-game nap a few times to make 10 stops on 11 San Jose sharks.

First Period

The Sharks did the one thing they definitely could not do on Sunday night, and that was take lots and lots of penalties. And just over five minutes into the first period, they found themselves with far too many skaters on the ice, giving the Avalanche the first powerplay of the game. That allowed Colorado’s two-headed monster up front to go to work.

After whipping it around for a little over a minute, Nathan MacKinnon got the puck at the left circle. He skated down low, and somehow threaded a pass through the sticks of a few Sharks defenders, right on the stick of Mikko Rantanen. The big Finn wired it over Kahkonen’s left shoulder, giving Colorado the early 1-0 lead.

Colorado could have very easily extended their lead further, but Rantanen hit the post on one attempt, and they couldn’t beat Kahkonen on their other attempts. At the other end of the ice, Georgiev didn’t have much to do, facing just three shots.

Second Period

While there were more total shots on net in the second period than the other periods, I wouldn’t recommend anyone rewatching it anytime soon. The most interesting play of the period came from the pure power of Nathan MacKinnon.

After carrying the puck through the neutral zone, he looked to enter the offensive zone with possession. Ty Emberson thought it was a good idea to try and stand MacKinnon up at the blueline, and let me tell you, it was not. MacKinnon put his shoulder down and plastered the young defenseman, and for good measure, he turned around and had some words to say to him. That got the crowd excited on the final day of 2023. Unfortunately, the rest of the period, there wasn’t much to cheer for. The Avalanche had more powerplays, but couldn’t do anything with them.

Meanwhile, the Sharks got a late powerplay after Jonathan Drouin took a penalty in the defensive zone, and it didn’t take long for them to capitalize. Just eight seconds into the man advantage, Tomas Hertl somehow found himself wide open in the slot. Uncovered, he beat Georgiev on the glove side, tying the game at one, and killing the vibe in the building.

Despite being outshot 21-9 through two periods, the Sharks were just one goal away from taking the lead heading into the third period.

Third Period

Colorado came out determined to finish the game in the third period, but couldn’t find a way to get the puck into the back of the net. At one point, MacKinnon danced through the entire Sharks team, and broke in alone on Kahkonen, but hit the crossbar on his shot. A few minutes later, he came down the right wing into the zone and hit the post again. It seemed like no matter what the Avalanche tried, they weren’t able to put the puck in the back of the net.

Alas, they stuck with it, and with nearly three minutes left in regulation, they broke through.

It all started in the neutral zone, as Miles Wood jumped in the air to catch the puck, and drew a penalty as he tried to enter the zone. Colorado maintained possession of the puck, and MacKinnon came onto the as the extra skater. Sam Girard, playing his first game in well over a month, made a nice play to hit MacKinnon in the hight slot. All the Sharks players attacked MacKinnon, and he passed it to a wide open Jack Johnson. The veteran defenseman skated in, faked like he was going to shoot, and passed it to a wide open Nichushkin at the side of the net, who put the put into the back of the net, making it 2-1.

Josh Manson added an empty net goal, his third goal in his last four games, and Colorado closed out 2023 on a high note.

They’ll start their 2024 calendar year with a day off on Monday, and come back to Ball Arena to take on the New York Islanders Tuesday night. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

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