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The Avalanche came out hot, slowed in the 2nd, then pushed the gas to finish dismantling of Coyotes 9-3.
The Avalanche came in looking for their 12th win of the month after dismantling Anaheim 5-2 on Monday. The game saw teams at 2 ends of the spectrum. One is a top-tier team fighting for division supremacy. The other is a pesky .500 team that just doesn’t seem to understand they are supposed to be bad. The Coyotes rank in the bottom half of the league in almost every significant offensive statistical category. They rank in the top-10 in the Penalty kill, and that’s about it. Yet they find themselves 1 point out of the playoffs. And were forced to put a rookie in goal. Granted Adin Hill beat the Avalanche just a week ago with the newest Av Jonas Johansson in goal.
The Avalanche have the best goalie in the goal in the league. Philipp Grubauer leads the league with a 1.74 goals-against average. And the Avalanche Defense has allowed the league-least amount of shots-against with 848, an average of 24.9 per game (all numbers courtesy of hockey-reference.com). They are also top-10 in every other category except power play %. Every trend would continue.Embed from Getty Images
The Rookie lasted 6 minutes, giving way to a goalie making his NHL debut in Ivan Prosvetov. The poor kid doesn’t even have a headshot in that Yahoo! Sports profile. And hats hit the rink with more than half the period left to be played. That’s right in 207 seconds and 2 goalies, Joonas Donskoi had himself a hat-trick. While playing in front of fans for the first time in a year, the Avalanche had energy the Coyotes couldn’t match, for the first 10 minutes at least. The Coyotes came out with offensive aggression I haven’t seen since the bubble, this leads to them allowing the Avalanche free runs into their end.
Here is the 3rd goal by Donskoi courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:
This belied the usual defensive discipline of the Yotes, who typically force teams to dump the puck in and chase. By the time Arizona got things calmed down. Donskoi had the 11th-fastest hat-trick in NHL history, doing it in 7:31 of ice-time, growing his season total to 15. Andre Burakovsky scored his 8th at 4:31 in, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare put in his 5th at 5:36. With Michael Bunting scoring his 1st on the first shot on goal by the Coyotes on a turnover in the neutral zone by the Avs that allowed him a 1-on-1 chance with Grubauer.
The 10-minute mark saw the Avalanche usual stoic dominance show cracks in their discipline. A strange series of hockey starting with Tyson Jost taking a penalty, a 2-minute goalie-interference call. On that power play by the Coyotes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson hook Michael Bunting, committing his own penalty causing a 4-on-4 on the ice. Then during that 4-on-4 Devon Toews hooked John Hayden causing the ever rare 4-on-3 power play for the Yotes. Arizona didn’t end up scoring, but it allowed them to find an offensive groove, and settle down on defense.Embed from Getty Images
A big, and legal, hit on Nathan MacKinnon at about the mid-point of the period really seemed to ruffle the Avalanche feathers. MacKinnon chased down his aggressor Kessler, to dole out a big hit of his own on the other end. But instead of just sparking his team, they seemed to lose their cool. This caused them to make uncharacteristic mistakes defensively which is what leads to Oliver Ekman-Larsson putting in his 2nd goal of the season at 18:57 in. Both have come against the Avalanche.
The highlight of the first 18:00 of the 2nd period might have been the 1-minute 26-second glass repair by the Ball Arena Conversion Crew. I know one thing about that scene, everyone above the Mason Dixon line needs those shoes during the winter. Seriously though, both teams came out flat. The Avalanche started the period with a golden opportunity to grow the lead with a 2 min. power play due to a penalty drawn by John Hayden as the teams left the ice at the end of one.Embed from Getty Images
The Coyotes’ over-zealousness calmed down in the 2nd though as they didn’t draw a single penalty and played their game. The Avalanche on the other hand became almost aloof, drawing 2 penalties and having Gru bail them out of bad situations caused by poor defensive effort. That was until a goal by Conor Garland, his 10th, that was scored on a bad turnover in the neutral zone by the Avs got him a primo scoring opportunity, drawing the game to within 2 at 5-3. This must not have sat well with Gabriel Landeskog, or maybe he realized the top-line had only contributed 1 assist to this point. Either way, he created his own neutral-zone turnover and streaked through the offensive zone. Knocking-in his 13th of the season, unassisted, growing the lead back to 6-3. This would be the final scoring of the period.
Some credit needs to be given to Prosvetov for debuting down 5-1 and slowing the bleeding to almost 1 goal-per-period. As opposed to 1 every 1:52. The kid came into an impossible situation, and made some nice saves. He even kept it relatively close for most of the game. At 6:02 into the 3rd period Mikko Rantanen put in his 21st of the season, drawing him even with Connor McDavid for 2nd-most in the league. This is where the wheels began to fall off. Gabriel Landeskog then deposited his 14th at 11:57 in. That was followed by Andre Burakovsky’s 9th at 16:57 as he streaked from the penalty box. That would end the scoring and give the Avalanche a 9-3 thrashing of the Coyotes. Buried under the good though was a late 10 min major by MacKinnon that got him tossed. And may carry a suspension after MacKinnon tossed Conor Garland’s own helmet back in his face to draw the penalty.
I mean seriously, imagine this being your welcome to the NHL and honestly say you wouldn’t want to quit. Courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche Social Team:
The Avalanche had 3 players score at least 2 goals (highlighted by Donskoi’s hat-trick). Six players scored at least 2 points (highlighted by Donskoi’s 4). Nothing is perfect, but offensively, this as perfect as you can get on the ice. You definitely don’t want to see the defensive lull for most of the 2nd-period, but that feels like nit-picking. And thanks to a 4-2 loss by the Las Vegas Golden Knights to the Los Angeles Kings. The Avalanche took sole possession of 1st-place in the West. Read that again, this team was barely clinging to a playoff spot a month ago. The first game in front of fans for the Avalanche this season went off without a hitch. Even the glass-repair was seamless.
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Vs St. Louis Blues Friday, April 2 at 7:00 PM MST
Where to watch:
Denver Market: Altitude TV
St. Louis Market: Fox-Sports Mid-West