The Colorado Avalanche know they can mount a comeback if they need to in order to win a game, and twice on Saturday afternoon, they came back from deficits to tie the game. Those kind of comebacks aren’t sustainable though, and you can only overcome sub-par goaltending so many times before it comes back to bite you.
Against the Florida Panthers, it definitely bit them.
Ivan Prosvetov started the game, but did not finish it, allowing four goals on just 13 shots. After being pulled in the second period, Alexandar Georgiev replaced him, but things didn’t go a whole lot better for him. He was credited with three goals against on 15 shots, although the last one is some bad luck on his part, as he was headed to the bench for the extra skater when the Panthers scored. Colorado couldn’t outscore their problems in net, and fell to the Panthers by a score of 8-4.
Cale Makar, Josh Manson, Valeri Nichushkin, and Jonathan Drouin were the goalscorers for Colorado. Nathan MacKinnon picked up an assist, extending his home point streak to 21 games.
It wasn’t the first matinee game of the year for the Avalanche, but it was the first home matinee game of the season. And early in the first period, it looked like Colorado was still asleep.
An early icing, failed clears, and sloppy play led to the Panthers scoring on just the second shift of the game. Ross Colton was a little slow getting to Carter Verhaeghe at the side of the net, and the Panthers sniper one-timed a Matthew Tkachuk pass over Ivan Prosvetov’s right shoulder, making it 1-0.
Just under two minutes later, the Panthers extended their lead, as a Forsling point shot was deflected home by Sam Reinhart. In the blink of an eye, the Avalanche were down 2-0, and it wasn’t about to get better.
Colorado’s top line had a strong shift in the offensive zone, but none of the forwards stayed high, which allowed the Panthers to take advantage, springing Sam Reinhart on a breakaway. The leading scorer for the Panthers skated in and beat Prosvetov over the glove, making it a three goal lead for Florida.
Fans were not happy, as that was three goals on the first four shots of the game for Florida. It wasn’t all on Prosvetov, as the team in front of him did not play well at all, but on his next save, he got the old Bronx cheer from the fans. Not something you ever want to hear on home ice.
The Avalanche had an opportunity to get back into it over halfway through the period, as Alex Barkov took a four minute high-sticking penalty on Joel Kiviranta. Colorado’s powerplay didn’t generate a whole lot, though. Nathan MacKinnon had a few looks, but for the most part, the Panthers didn’t allow Colorado to get set up. The Avalanche killed off a late Florida powerplay, but went into the intermission down 3-0.
The Avalanche must have all collectively hit the smelling salts in the first intermission. That, or Jared Bednar ripped into them. I’d say the latter is more likely. Either way, they came out flying to start the second.
It took just 21 seconds for Colorado to get back into the game. Cale Makar jumped in on the rush and beat Bobrovsky on the blocker side, cutting the lead to two. 31 seconds later, it was cut to one.
Ross Colton made a nice play on the zone entry, sending it down low to O’Connor, who chipped it to Valeri Nichushkin. He sent it to Josh Manson at the point, whose one-timer was stopped by Bobrovsky, but the rebound bounced off his own defenseman into the air. Bobrovsky dove, but couldn’t stop the trickling puck from crossing the goal line.
Not only were the Avalanche back into the game, but so was the crowd. The building erupted after being dead quiet in the first period (outside of a few boos).
Four minutes into the period, Matthew Tkachuk mauled Sam Girard after Girard went crashing into the net. Tkachuk got the extra two, giving Colorado a chance on the powerplay. It wouldn’t take long for the game to get tied up.
Florida gave Cale Makar way too much time at the center point, and gave him a lane. Makar’s shot was clearly intended to be deflected, and Valeri Nichushkin got his stick on the puck, sending it past Bobrovsky and tying the game.
In just 4:35, the complexion of the game had completely changed. Unfortunately, poor goaltending for the Avalanche gave Florida the next marker.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent a harmless wrister on net from the point, and it eluded Prosvetov on the glove side, giving the Panthers the 4-3 lead. Jared Bednar had seen enough at that point, and replaced Prosvetov with Alexandar Georgiev. So much for that day off.
Georgiev got into the game really quickly. On a near break for the Panthers, he dove out of his crease to poke the puck away. He succeeded, but took a skate to the head and looked to be shaken up. He did stay in the game, however.
The Avalanche outshot the Panthers 13-7 in the second, but because of that bad goal, found themselves trailing heading into the third period. A familiar spot for this team of late.
Did the Avalanche have another comeback in them? For a minute, it sure looked like it.
Just 3:31 into the third, Sam Girard blocked a shot in the defensive zone. The puck flew out into the neutral zone, and Jonathan Drouin won the race for the puck. He held off Mikkola, moved the puck to his forehand, and beat Bobrovsky on a breakaway, tying the game at four.
And then the penalty trouble hit.
For the second straight game, the Avalanche were hit with a four minute minor for high-sticking that needed a review. There was no question that Ross Colton’s stick hit Evan Rodrigues in the face, but up in the press box, we can’t tell if there’s blood or not. The linesman immediately looked at Rodrigues and must have determined there was, but it’s just strange how it has happened in back-to-back games. And it was only made worse by the fact that Logan O’Connor, while trying to clear the puck on the ensuing penalty kill, sent it out of the rink, giving Florida a 5-on-3 advantage.
Sam Reinhart, who scored twice early, completed the hat trick on the 5-on-3, one-timing a shot from the slot past Georgiev. Colorado actually killed off the rest of Colton’s double-minor penalty, but some tough luck off the face-off put them down two.
Nathan MacKinnon actually won the defensive zone draw, but the puck bounced around off some skates, and ended up on the stick of Kevin Stenlund. He sent a quick backhander over Georgiev’s shoulder, and the game was suddenly 6-4.
Colorado never recovered after that, and Florida locked things down. The Panthers added not one, but two empty net goals, and walked out of Ball Arena with the 8-4 win.
There’s no time for Colorado to sit around and mope, because the Boston Bruins will be in town on Monday night. That game starts at 7 PM MST.