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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Earn Overtime Victory By Sticking With Their Game




It took a little longer than they probably would have liked, but the better team won on Tuesday night, and that team was the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche out-attempted the Islanders 70-36 at even strength on Tuesday night, but it took extra time for Colorado to come out on top, and they beat New York by a score of 5-4 in overtime. It was the ultimate “stick with the process” game for Colorado, who were the better team all night long and earned the victory. The goaltending on both sides played a role in the game being as close as it was.

Nathan MacKinnon scored the overtime winner, inching closer to Nikita Kucherov atop the scoring leaders in the NHL. Valeri Nichushkin added two goals, and Jonathan Drouin picked up a goal and an assist, giving him 10 points in his last 10 games. Cale Makar casually picked up three assists of his own.

In net, Alexandar Georgiev had a really shaky start, allowing three goals in the first nine shots, but settled down to finish with 18 saves.

First Period

Colorado came out with some real speed in period one, controlling the majority of the play. At even strength, they out-attempted the Islanders 31-15. Unfortunately, that didn’t mean a whole lot by the time the end of the period rolled around.

The Islanders got on the board first, after the Avalanche got beat in the neutral zone. Sam Girard had an opportunity in the offensive zone, but whiffed on his shot. The Islanders cleared the puck out, and it bounced over Girard’s stick, giving Pierre Engvall a breakaway. Engvall, who was a healthy scratch in New York’s last game, beat Georgiev through the five-hole giving New York the early lead.

That lead lasted all of 32 seconds, as Colorado came down on the next shift and tied it up. Cale Makar led the way, rushing through defensemen and getting the puck into the corner. Logan O’Connor recovered the puck, and hit Devon Toews in the center of the ice. Toews’ shot hit the leg of Dobson in front, and beat Semyon Varlamov, tying the game at one.

Colorado had a chance to really blow the game open, but for as good as they were at even strength, they couldn’t get anything going on the two powerplay opportunities they were handed. That meant the game stayed tied at one.

With under 60 seconds remaining in the period, Nathan Mackinnon got tangled up with Scott Mayfield away from the puck, and hit the defender up high. That got him a roughing penalty, and it didn’t take long for the Islanders to take advantage.

After an initial clear, Brock Nelson skated through both Cale Makar and Devon Toews, who let him enter the zone with ease. On a mini-breakaway, Nelson beat Georgiev through the legs on a quick shot, giving the Islanders the lead heading into the intermission. A tough way for things to end after Colorado outshot the Islanders 16-8.

Second Period

The first 1:10 of the second perfectly encapsulated the game up until that point. At one end, Colorado had a 2-on-1, with Mikko Rantanen holding the puck. Rantanen’s shot was stopped by Sorokin, so the puck went the other way. Simon Holmstrom skated down the right wing and let a quick wrist shot go on Georgiev. The shot was not deflected in anyway, but beat Georgiev cleanly up high, making it 3-1. At that point, the Islanders had just nine shots on goal, but had scored on three of them. Not ideal.

To the credit of the Avalanche, they stuck with it. A minute after the Islanders scored, they got another powerplay. They didn’t score on it, but almost immediately after Cal Clutterbuck got back on the ice, Colorado cut the lead to one. The Avalanche worked the puck around the offensive zone, eventually hitting Drouin at the bottom of the circle. He went cross-ice to Sam Girard, whose initial shot was stopped, but Nichushkin was in front of the net to tap home the rebound on his old KHL teammate.

Four minutes later, Colorado tied it up, with the top line going to work off the rush. Drouin started it in his own end, hitting MacKinnon with speed on the zone exit. MacKinnon entered the offensive zone, and dropped to Mikko Rantanen. The big Finn waited, and found a trailing Drouin, who snapped the puck over Sorokin’s blocker, tying the game at three.

All the momentum the Avalanche created meant nothing, as the Islanders scored the next goal on a bit of a flukey play. Alex Romanov’s point shot, which was slow and along the ice, hit the skate of Jack Johnson in front of the net and went through Georgiev’s legs, making it 4-3.

Colorado kept pushing the rest of the period, but couldn’t find the equalizer. Most of the game was played in the Islanders end, but the Avalanche didn’t always do the best job of taking away Sorokin’s eyes. The biggest moment of the final 10 minutes came when Sam Girard, all 5’10” of him, plastered 6’4″ Robert Bortuzzo into the boards, creating a turnover. Bortuzzo left the game with what looked like a lower-body injury.

Third Period

At no point did this game ever feel out of reach, and that was obvious in the third period. The Islanders barely even tried to extend their lead, sitting back and trying to trap Colorado for the final 20 minutes. Probably not the best plan of attack, and it burned them.

Halfway through the third, Mike Reilly got busted for interference, sending the Avalanche to the powerplay. They had failed to capitalize on earlier man advantages, but when they really needed a goal, the big guns came to the rescue.

Cale Makar looked ready to blast a puck through the glass, but his stick had other ideas. On a one-time attempt, his stick shattered to pieces, distracting the Islanders defenders. The puck just so happened to roll to MacKinnon near the side of the net, and he hit Nichushkin in front, who deposited it past Sorokin to tie the game at four.

Even with the game tied, New York sat back, allowing the Avalanche to keep up the pressure. With under 30 seconds left, Nichushkin, on the lookout for a hat trick, nearly won the game with a Herculean effort.

On the backcheck, Nichushkin took the puck away from the Islanders in the neutral zone, and turned it back the other way. Rather than try skate around Scott Mayfield, he decided to try and go right through him. He bounced off Mayfield and Romanov, and gathered the puck behind them. His backhand shot was stopped by Sorokin, but MacKinnon came in whacking, and shoved Sorokin into the net with the puck.

The play was reviewed, but it was determined there was no goal. However, Nichushkin’s power rush to the net drew a penalty, and while Colorado couldn’t capitalize in the final seconds of regulation, they did start overtime with the powerplay.


32 seconds into the extra period, the game was over. Every0ne on the Avalanche touched the puck in the offensive zone, but the kill shot came from MacKinnon at the left circle. Makar gave him a pass right in his wheelhouse, and he blasted the puck through Sorokin, sending the fans home happy and giving Colorado the 5-4 victory.

With the win, Colorado will stay on top of the Central Division for now, and on Thursday, they’ll be headed to Dallas for a huge division battle. That game starts at 6 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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