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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Hitting Their Stride, Dominate Golden Knights In Shutout Victory



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As a team, the Colorado Avalanche are really rounding into form. If they start to get the type of goaltending they got on Wednesday night consistently, the rest of the NHL may be in trouble.

A few days after playing one of their more complete games against the Boston Bruins, the Avalanche may have topped it, dominating the Vegas Golden Knights on their way to a 3-0 victory. The first period was pretty even, but from the second period on, the Avalanche skaters looked fantastic, and perhaps more importantly, so did their goaltender.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 25 shots sent his way for his second shutout of the season, and heard the chants of “Georgie! Georgie! Georgie!” that we haven’t heard as much this season. Valeri Nichushkin picked up two powerplay goals, and Logan O’Connor added an insurance goal in the third period to more or less end the game.

First Period

In a battle between two Stanley Cup contenders, the Vegas Golden Knights came out with a little more energy. Not much, as the first was pretty even overall, but the first 10 minutes belonged to Vegas. Alexandar Georgiev played strong, stopping all 11 shots he faced.

The Golden Knights had two powerplay opportunities, but couldn’t find a way to beat the Avalanche netminder. Colorado’s penalty kill deserves credit, especially on the second Vegas man advantage, because they gave the Golden Knights very little room.

At the other end, it took a while for Colorado to test Jiri Patera. Their best opportunity at even strength came off the stick of Ross Colton, who worked a great give-and-go with Logan O’Connor. He couldn’t beat Patera, but that shift kind of started the shift in the second half of the period. Colorado started to push the pace a bit more, and on the top line’s final shift at even strength, they generated multiple scoring chances. After keeping the Golden Knights hemmed in their own end, Valeri Nichushkin drew a penalty, giving Colorado a late powerplay.

It took just 10 seconds for the powerplay to break through. Mikko Rantanen, working from behind the net, sent a perfect saucer pass in front to Nichushkin, who beat Patera, giving Colorado the 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

Second Period

When you consider the opponent, the second period may have been the best 20 minutes of the season from the Avalanche. They dominated from start to finish, and extended their lead. Sure, the Golden Knights had a few chances, including one post halfway through the period, but they were few and far between. The only reason the period didn’t end with a larger Avalanche lead was the goaltending of Jiri Patera.

At even strength, the Avalanche dominated possession, out-attempting the Golden Knights 21-10. Even when they were down a man, they gave the Golden Knights nothing. On Colorado’s only man advantage of the period, they put on a clinic.

The Avalanche powerplay has been on fire of late, but I’m not sure we’ve seen better puck movement than we saw on the second goal of the game. Makar sent the puck on the half-wall to Drouin, who immediately fired a pass through the “royal road” to MacKinnon. His one-timer missed the net, but Rantanen was there to recover the puck. Rantanen send a pass through his legs to Nichushkin in front, who deposited the puck past a diving Patera, making it 2-0. A thing of beauty.

Rantanen had a great chance to extend the lead moments later, but Patera got across and appeared to stop the puck with his helmet. His goaltending kept the game close heading into the third.

Third Period

When the Avalanche needed Alexandar Georgiev, he was there for them on Wednesday night. And on an early penalty kill in the third, Georgiev made the type of save he made a lot of last year to keep the score right where it should be.

About three minutes into the third, with the man advantage, Jack Eichel hit Mark Stone backdoor for a great chance. If you’re Vegas, that’s probably the exact combination of players you want to see create a scoring chance, but Georgiev was having none of it. He got his left pad across and robbed Stone, keeping the score at 2-0.

Soon after, the Avalanche extended their lead, thanks to a few fantastic keep-ins by Caleb Jones. On his second or third keep-in of the shift, he deflected the puck to Logan O’Connor. The veteran forward wasted no time, sending a shot towards the net, and he got a little help. Nic Hague deflected the puck past his own netminder, and the Avalanche had a three goal lead, which given the way they were playing, looked insurmountable. And it was.

Georgiev made another fantastic stop on a Denisenko breakaway, and the fans began chanting his name. Those chants continued after the game, because the 25 save shutout earned him the number one star of the game. A complete effort from the home team, and some nice revenge for the beat down the team took back in November in Vegas.

The Avalanche will now head out on the road for an extended road trip that begins Saturday in Toronto. That game will start at 5 PM MST.

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