The Colorado Avalanche looked to extend their five-game winning streak at home after a perfect road trip. The last time the Avs faced the Washington Capitals, Alexandar Georgiev backstopped the team to a 4-0 shutout win on the road.

Tonight, Georgiev earned the start again in hopes of a repeat performance. Washington entered the night on the heels of a 6-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

First Period

About three minutes into its start, Conor Sheary came in off the rush and fired a shot that appeared to go in, but it hit the post and out.

At 11:11, Evan Rodrigues made the diving play to clear the puck from the offensive zone and set the Avs up in transition. Nathan MacKinnon collected the puck and carried it through the neutral zone. Once in the Caps end, Dmitry Orlov threw on the brakes in a reverse hit that almost caused MacKinnon to falter, but he managed to complete the pass to Artturi Lehkonen as he fell. Lehkonen swept the puck past a familiar face, Darcy Kuemper.

Just under the midway mark, Kurtis MacDermid took an interference penalty against Sonny Milano. Colorado went on the kill. Georgiev made a big pad save near the end, and the kill was successful.

With about two minutes remaining, Jacob MacDonald went to the box for tripping and the Avs went back on the penalty kill. This one felt a bit more dangerous. Caps were getting passes through the crease and trying to stuff pucks in on Georgiev, but he held his own with the grace of a few whistles. Through two kills, Georgiev came up with four saves. Three of the Caps’ seven high-danger chances came about on the kill.

The shots favored Washington at 13-9. Nine of their twelve chances were in between the hash marks. Georgiev deserved big credit for this period. Overall, the Avs didn’t look as dangerous, but they still had an edge on puck possession and the one-goal lead.

Second Period

Two minutes into its start, Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’Connor battled for the puck along the boards. O’Connor prevailed and carried it along the perimeter and passed it to Kurtis MacDermid at the blueline. MacDermid fired it towards the net and it bounced off Cogliano’s body and in.

The post from the first period was good, but Conor Sheary was keen to get on the scoreboard. At 4:48 into the period, Martin Fehervary launched a puck to the net front and Sheary’s stick blade snuck it in through Georgiev.

As the period winded down, Sam Girard sent an outlet pass up ice. O’Connor received it at center ice and tapped it up to Newhook rushing through the neutral zone. Newhook cut around Orlov and sent the puck past Kuemper’s stick side.

Colorado looked more settled in this period. They closed in on the shot differential by outshooting the Caps 14-11. The Avs generated more dangerous chances, but Washington still created eight to their seven.

This meant the Avs still had to clean things up in their own end, but it was an improved period and the 3-1 lead reflected that.

Third Period

At 9:44 into the final period, Colorado lost a defensive zone faceoff. Lehkonen attempted to retrieve it but got tangled up with Orlov. MacKinnon came in relief with the chance to clear and accidentally flubbed it. Dylan Strome picked it up and sent it to Alex Ovechkin parked at the left circle.  Ovechkin one-timed it in past Georgiev.

The Avs fumbled a bit this period. They managed the puck poorly in their own end: failed clears, behind on retrievals.

Colorado iced the puck late in the third, and Kuemper went to the bench to give Washington a man-advantage. The Caps used their timeout to convene before the faceoff in Colorado’s end.

A potential call on a slash to Val Nichushkin looked like it could be made, but the time was running out and the Avs played through until the final buzzer. Colorado snuck out with a 3-2 win. Jared Bednar earned his 266th win and became the winningest coach in franchise history.

Observations:

Georgiev’s game: It’s not without acknowledgment – from Jared Bednar himself – that Alexandar Georgiev’s strong play made this win possible. Georgiev made his 33rd start of the season, a new career high. Tonight’s game is the game starters are made of. He made 37 of 39 saves, at least 19 of those saves came about on high-to-medium danger chances. He made several timely saves as well, the sprawling save (which came off his mask) late in the third period required extreme athleticism and allowed Colorado to keep their one-goal lead. This one prompted chants in Ball Arena.

“I’m happy that we were able to get the two points to put us up the standings again. That’s our focus and tonight, the main reason we got that was because Georgiev was excellent in goal. He was our best player for sure,” said Bednar.

“I didn’t love our performance as a team, and he was the one that was able to secure the win for us,” he added.

Washington was all over Colorado’s goalmouth, and Georgiev swallowed them whole. He earned a 0.949 save percentage on the night.

Poor decisions: Colorado didn’t have a terrible game. It’s merely rich with a series of similar mistakes that they can improve upon. The obvious critique is their play in their own end. MacKinnon’s failed clear was not isolated to just him. Failed clears led to turnovers and Colorado struggled to retrieve and settle the puck. Washington’s dangerous chances were created largely in part due to extended zone time.

“We scored a couple of timely goals, but we didn’t look sharp. It looked like we lacked energy. I didn’t think we had the jump in energy we needed. That led to a bunch of mental mistakes with the puck and without.”

Notably, Colorado didn’t draw any penalties of their own. Washington outshot and out-chanced Colorado, and the Avs didn’t match their output in the offensive zone either. Getting to the dangerous areas and playing hard in the offensive zone leads to desperate plays that can earn calls. There was just not enough to draw them out tonight.

They still created: 26 shots on goal and 22 additional attempts blocked or missed, but it just didn’t pose the same threat.

That’s why, in the same breath, depth scoring from Alex Newhook and Andrew Cogliano’s redirect was much-needed.

Overall, to reiterate, it was not a bad game. Colorado earned two points and extended their win streak to six games. In the absence of Cale Makar, who is day-to-day and was a game time decision, the victory is valuable for a team looking to stack wins and build confidence. This win elevated Colorado to third in the Central Division and inspired confidence in their goaltending and their ability to win games a few different ways.

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