The Avalanche started fast with a 2-1 lead. Then continued to de-feather the Ducks 5-2. Punches were thrown.
The Avalanche were coming off a tough loss to division leader Las Vegas Golden Knights. They looked to right the ship against the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks came in no higher than 25th in any major category, whether offensively or defensively speaking. They are also dead last in the division with only 28 pts, as opposed to the second place Avalanche with 46 points.
The first started well for the Avs as Mikko Rantanen was able to push one across at 2:56 into the period. They were only able to hold that lead until 9:14 into the first when Danton Heinen took a nifty pass through the legs of Devon Toews from Max Comtois. He then backhanded one past the left pad of a confused Philipp Grubauer who lost the puck on the pass, that was his 5th of the year. This game could have easily been 2-1 if not for Gru doing his thing yet again. Outside of the one goal he gave up in the period, he was other-worldly. Like his break-away stoning of Comtois shortly after Mikko’s goal.Embed from Getty Images
But this Avalanche defense hit another gear after that goal by Heinen. They allowed only 1 shot on goal for the next 20 mins. of game time. Then Grubauer did it again to Comtois with 12:02 left in the 2nd, who came down for this second break-away of the game, Gru just calmly stuck out his left pad and knocked it away on the deke attempt. Keeping it 2-1 after Tyson Jost deposited his 3rd of the year on a one-timer off a blocked shot rebound at 3:59 into the second period.
The offensive pressure continued and broke through for a 3-1 Avalanche lead with Gabriel Landeskog scoring his 12th with assists from Makar (17), and MacKinnon (28th). The Ducks were able to out-hit the Avalanche 8-7 and deadlocked with 9 blocks apiece. Where things got lopsided was when you compared the offenses. The Ducks had a total of 8 shots on goal compared to the 34 by the Avs. And 4 PP’s to the Ducks’ 2.
Look at the table below courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:
There is still a key area of worry for this squad. That is their Power Play %, their 5-on-5 dominance is insane. In their last 10 games, the Avalanche are +25 in Even Strength Goal Differential. A coach is always looking for something to improve, here is a major one for Bednar to preach on. With 5 pairs of skates on the ice, the Avalanche can rock with anyone. When they are on the Penalty Kill, they are 2nd best in the league. But when they have the advantage, somehow their dominance tends to wane. They drop all the way to 13th in PP at 23.1%
The Ducks made it interesting at 3:19 into the 3rd as Troy Terry put his 7th past Gru to make it 3-2. The Avalanche offensive pressure was just too much for Anaheim to handle. Colorado was able to start pulling away when J.T. Compher was able to put his 4th in at 7:26 into the period. Then Valeri Nichushkin sealed the deal on his 8th of the year 2 game minutes later. The Avalanche buried yet another opponent with 48 shots on goal, Anaheim only had 15. The Avs have outshot their last 10 opponents 407-222. This is hockey I and I’m sure most, have never seen before.Embed from Getty Images
It was also nice to see the Avalanche show even more fight, quite literally. There were several scrums, and 2 official fights. Including a glove-dropper with Bellemare and Nicolas Deslauriers at center ice at 15:07 into the 3rd. You wouldn’t exactly anoint Bellemare a Gold-Gloves contender. But simply standing up to a bigger defender goes a long way in your own locker room. We saw Dan Renouf come to his teammates defense for a second straight game. But it was a completely clean game, as we discussed earlier.
Colorado ended the game 1/6 on the power play. This will bear monitoring, but should not overshadow the pure dominance of this squad when it is 5-on-5. And thanks to wonders of NHL scheduling, we don’t have to wait long before we get to enjoy it again. As they try to keep pace with the Las Vegas Golden Knights who are just 1 point ahead of them.
And in case you missed it, I’ll leave you with all 5 goals courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:
vs Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday, March 31 at 7:30 PM MST
Where to watch:
Denver Market: Altitude TV
Arizona Market: Fox Sports Arizona