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Avalanche Snap Losing Streak Behind Big Game From Lehkonen

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It wasn’t pretty for the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, but it rarely is when you’re trying to break out of a long losing streak.

But who cares? A win is a win.

Behind a huge four point performance from Artturi Lehkonen, the Avalanche went into Washington and beat the Capitals by a score of 6-3 in a bit of a strange game. Both teams were extremely loose in the first period, but Colorado was able to win the game with a strong second period, something they didn’t get in Florida on Saturday.

Colorado got multi-point games from six different players, including Lehkonen, Miles Wood, and Ross Colton, who came together to form the new look second line. Alexandar Georgiev was okay in net, stopping 24 of the 27 shots Washington sent his way.

First Period

All the ingredients were there for the Avalanche to get off to a hot start and bury the home team on Tuesday night.

On the first shift of the game, Colorado was handed a 3-on-1 by the Capitals, and the puck was on the stick of the right guy, Nathan MacKinnon. Unfortunately, his shot was stopped by Lindgren, but Washington was in a giving mood early on.

A few shifts later, Artturi Lehkonen, playing on the second line in the absence of Logan O’Connor, chipped the puck out to Miles Wood, who hit Ross Colton for a mini-breakaway. Colton came in and beat Lindgren on his glove side, giving Colorado the 1-0 lead. Colton’s goal would be the first even strength goal by an Avalanche center not named Nathan MacKinnon since Dec. 29.

Two minutes later, the new look fourth line chipped in. Ryan Johansen did a nice job protecting the puck along the boards, and hit Devon Toews at the point. Toews’ shot found its way through traffic, beating Lindgren and giving Colorado the 2-0 lead. At that point in the game, the Capitals looked like they didn’t want to be there. Things changed pretty quickly, though.

Colorado’s top line got stuck chasing in their own end a few minutes later, and Nathan MacKinnon lost his man in the defensive zone. A point shot by Washington was tipped in front by Malenstyn, which created a rebound. Malenstyn, all alone by himself in front of the net, deposited the puck into the empty net to get the Capitals right back into the game. And 44 seconds later, the game was tied.

Josh Manson, with control of the puck in his own end, tried a risky spinning pass to the center of the ice, which resulted in a turnover. Connor McMichael picked it up, but Sam Girard did a nice job taking the pass away from the Capitals forward at the backdoor. Instead, McMichael carried it down low, and still attempted a pass to the front of the net. It deflected off Lehkonen’s skate and into the net, tying the game at two.

Soon after the tying goal, Georgiev was forced to make a big save in front on Tom Wilson to keep the game tied. Colorado was outplayed the last half of the period, but were able to escape and get into the intermission with the game tied.

Second Period

The second period was definitely a bounce back period for the Avalanche. They dominated in shot attempts, and outside of one shift where the fourth line got stuck in their own end, controlled most of the play.

Almost nine minutes into the period, they were rewarded. Colton looked like he was going to be able to get a good shot off on the rush, but he tripped over his own skates. Colorado maintained possession of the puck, and it eventually came around to Bowen Byram, who got it back to Colton. The center sent a pass down low to Lehkonen, and it somehow snuck through a few Washington defenders, giving Lehkonen a wide open net to finish off his fourth goal of the season.

On a late man advantage, Colorado’s slumping powerplay was finally able to break through, and Lehkonen played a pivotal role in that goal as well. MacKinnon sent the puck down low to Lehkonen. With his back turned to Rantanen, he sent a no-look pass through his legs to his fellow countryman, who wired a puck top shelf to make it 4-2. A huge goal for a powerplay that had gone cold since the break, and one that gave Colorado the two goal lead heading into the third.

Third Period

Washington did come out and pushed the pace a little bit in the third down two goals, but the Avalanche managed to hold them off. However, a big-time make-up call nearly changed the entire course of the game eight minutes into the third.

In a battle for the puck along the boards, Josh Manson sent Tom Wilson into the boards and came away with the puck. The whistle was blown on the play because Wilson was hurt, but no ref had their hands in the air. After a long break, the refs decided to give Manson an elbowing call. The only problem? His elbow didn’t really do anything on the play. No one quite understood how the refs determined that was the call to make, but they made it, and on the ensuing powerplay, Ovechkin scored from his office, making it 4-3.

The rest of the game was very much Colorado just holding on, as that goal gave Washington all the momentum. Georgiev made some big saves, and the Avalanche were able to lock things down. With the net empty, Lehkonen added his second of the night to seal it. Washington decided to pull Lindgren again, and Miles Wood added a goal of his own, giving the Avalanche the 6-3 win.

Colorado will now head to Tampa Bay to close out this long six game road trip on Thursday. That game starts at 5:00 PM MST.

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