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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Hold On For Much Needed Win In Challenge-Filled Game




Some games feel like they’re taking forever, and some games actually take forever. Sunday’s game between the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes managed to accomplish both.

There were three challenges between the two teams, which ultimately resulted in two goals being taken off the board. Colorado’s successful challenge in the third period lasted about ten minutes, slowing the game to a crawl, but it ultimately worked out in their favor, changing the momentum of the game. The Avalanche eventually broke the tie in the third period with a goal that did count, walking away with a 4-3 victory in a game that took nearly three hours to complete. With the win, Colorado moved to 21-5 at home on the season.

Nathan MacKinnon extended his home point streak to 26 games, picking up a goal and an assist. Ross Colton, Jack Johnson, and Devon Toews added the other goals. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 28 shots for his 29th win of the season.

First Period

Playing their first game at Ball Arena in nearly a month, the Avalanche came out with a fair bit of energy. They controlled the first five minutes of play, and were rewarded on the scoreboard.

A turnover by Vejmelka off a dump-in led to a perfect passing play between Ross Colton and Miles Wood. Bowen Byram tapped it down low to Wood, who immediately sent it to a wide open Colton in the slot. With Lehkonen battling for positioning in front of the net, Colton one-timed the puck through Vejmelka, giving the Avalanche the early lead.

It appeared the Avalanche had all the momentum, but that changed very quickly, as the Coyotes dominated the final 15 minutes of the first.

Matt Dumba, who was public enemy #1 on the evening, tied the game up in front of the net against the top line for Colorado. He snuck away from Mikko Rantanen, then got good positioning on Cale Makar, whacking home the rebound of an Alex Kerfoot shot. A few minutes later, Rantanen was called for slashing on Dumba, sending the Coyotes to their first powerplay of the evening.

It didn’t take long for them to take advantage, and they moved the puck around with ease against Colorado’s penalty killers. Lawson Crouse was left all alone in the slot, so alone that he had time to kick the puck to his stick before sending it past Georgiev.

Colorado took two more penalties late in the period, but were able to kill them off. One of them was Rantanen, who hit Dumba just a little late. Colorado wasn’t happy with that call, as they felt Dumba went down a little easy. They aren’t wrong, but Rantanen definitely hit him a second too late.

In desperate need of a win, the Avalanche went into the intermission down a goal.

Second Period

The first didn’t exactly fly by, but the second was awfully slow, with multiple stoppages in play that took forever. Good thing this was an early game.

Five minutes into the period, Colorado tied the game up, thanks to an unlikely source. Zach Parise did a good winning a battle down low, getting the puck to Ryan Johansen, who had a strong game. Johansen carried it up high and passed it off to Jack Johnson, who was just left alone by the Coyotes. Johnson took what Arizona gave him, carried the puck down low, and beat Vejmelka cleanly on the glove side, tying the game up.

The Coyotes picked up the next goal right as Nathan MacKinnon was released from the penalty box after his tripping penalty. It was created by a mistake from Colorado, as Artturi Lehkonen turned the puck over at the other end on an odd-man rush. That gave the Coyotes a 4-on-2 rush, and Logan Cooley, right from the slot, beat Georgiev on the glove side.

Arizona’s lead lasted all of 21 seconds, as they seemed to anger Nathan MacKinnon. Bowen Byram, who has caught fire of late, hit MacKinnon on the backdoor. MacKinnon’s initial shot was stopped, but he kept whacking away at the puck, and its just barely crossed the goal line, tying the game up.

For some reason, the Coyotes challenged the play for goaltender interference, probably because no one really knows what goaltender interference is. This was not interference, though. While MacKinnon whacked away, he didn’t really push Vejmelka, so the goal stood, and the Avalanche were given a powerplay, which they couldn’t capitalize on.

MacKinnon’s poor face, which has taken a beating over the last week, took a high-stick a little later in the period, drawing blood and a four minute powerplay, but Colorado couldn’t take advantage of it, despite peppering Vejmelka with shots.

Colorado ultimately outshot the Coyotes 20-5 in the middle period, but the game stayed tied heading into the third.

Third Period

Anyone who loves offside reviews must have loved the third period.

No one? No one likes offside reviews? Then the third period wasn’t for you.

It looked like the Coyotes were going to take the lead early in the third period. A pretty flip pass by Jack McBain hit a streaking Alex Kerfoot for a breakaway. Kerfoot’s shot snuck past Georgiev, giving the Coyotes the lead, but the Avalanche immediately challenged the play, claiming it was offside. The Avalanche seemed sure of it, but they had to be questioning themselves as time went on, because the review took close to 10 minutes. Ultimately, the ruling came down that the play was offside.

Almost immediately, the Avalanche responded, as a Sam Girard shot clanked off the post to the side of the net, where Jonathan Drouin smacked it into an empty cage. It looked like Colorado had taken the lead, but hold up…the Coyotes immediately challenged it. This one was blatantly obvious, as Rantanen was clearly in the zone before the puck, so the goal came back. All in all, the first 7 minutes of the period took about 30 minutes in real time.

Ultimately, the Avalanche did come up with the game winning goal, and it managed to hold up without any sort of review. Nathan MacKinnon hit Jonathan Drouin in the high slot, and the talented winger immediately knew what he was going to do. He one-touched the puck back to a wide open Devon Toews, who used Rantanen as a screen and beat Vejmelka on the blocker side.

With the goaltender pulled, Artturi Lehkonen took a tripping penalty, giving the Coyotes an extended 6-on-4 advantage. Georgiev was tested, but held strong in net, and the guys in front of him did a nice job tying up sticks to keep the Coyotes off the board. Miles Wood killed time at the end of the game behind the Coyotes net with the puck, and the Avalanche walked away with a much needed 4-3 win at home.

Colorado will be tested in a big way on Tuesday night, when the Western Conference leading Vancouver Canucks come to town. That game starts at 7 PM MST, and hopefully doesn’t take as long as this one did.

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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