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Alexandar Georgiev steals a big win in Los Angeles for the Avalanche

Jesse Montano Avatar
April 9, 2023

Five games to go in a season that has been as up and down as I can remember in recent seasons for the Colorado Avalanche. With a playoff spot secured, the Avs came into tonight’s game looking to keep pace at the top of the Central Division after both the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild both won their games earlier in the day. 

Already facing easily their toughest test of the California road trip, the Avs were dealt a dose of bad news this afternoon when it was announced that defenseman Bowen Byram would miss tonight’s game with an illness. That meant that Colorado would be facing the Los Angeles Kings while missing half of their top six. 

The game started, and… how do I put this nicely? It looked like the Avalanche were without half of their defense. It was all LA in the early going, Alexandar Georgiev was the only reason things didn’t get away from the Avs early. 

It was a disappointing start. We’ve heard so much talk recently from Jared Bednar about having that playoff intensity in games like this right from the get-go. It’s not even necessarily an “effort” issue, but rather a matter of desperation. 

The Kings looked like the more desperate team. Like they wanted it more. Both Colorado and LA are in heated races for home ice in their respective divisions, and you wanted to see the Avs dial it up to match the Kings a little better in the early going. 

 Despite being outshot 18-4 in the first 20 minutes, the Avs somehow managed to head to the dressing room in a 0-0 tie and I really don’t know if you could have asked for a much better fate given how badly they had been outplayed. 

The puck dropped on the second period and to my eye it really looked like LA was somewhat of picking up where they left off in the first. They just looked like the hungrier team. 

I’m not here to make excuses, nor am I going to say that the Avs should be content with getting pretty thoroughly outplayed to start this game. What I will say though is that in reality, the Kings Had more on the line tonight than the Avs did. 

Coupled with an Edmonton Oilers win earlier in the day, a loss for the Kings would officially relegate them to third place in the Central Division, mathematically unable of catching the Edmonton Oilers. A regulation loss would also mean that LA would sit just two points ahead of the feel-good-story Seattle Kraken, who currently occupy the first Wild Card spot in the West. 

The Avalanche came into the night needing to hold serve but would have remained in a very competitive position had they not gotten the win. 

Again, not saying it was okay for the Avs to sleepwalk through the start of this game, but desperation is a real motivating emotion and it’s impossible to fake. 

Fortunately for the Avalanche, the higher powers of the hockey world decided to help them. I don’t know, maybe they felt bad for all of the injury stuff. 

Less than 90 seconds into the middle frame, Colorado worked the puck from low to high, and JT Compher sent a one-timer on net from the point. Denis Malign got just a piece and deflected it just over the net.

The puck bounced off the glass, off LA goaltender Pheonix Copley, and into the net. 

They probably didn’t deserve to be, but the Avs were up 1-0 and had some life. 

Just one minute after the fortuitous bounce that put the Avs ahead, they got another stroke of luck. A nice play to stand the Kings up at the blue line quickly transitioned into a rush up ice as Alex Newhook raced to a loose puck. 

The LA defender that was back checking on Newhook lost an edge and went down. Suddenly Newhook was in all alone. 

It was a long time coming for him, and he’s had a lot of chances that he’s just barely missed in recent weeks, but this time Newhook made no mistake. A beautiful forehand, backhand, changeup right through the five-hole, and in the blink of an eye the Avalanche had a two-goal lead. 

That’s what this team can do, and that’s why they’re so dangerous. Missing a full line’s worth of forwards, and half of your top-six defensive core, they still have the players that can change a game in an instant even when they’ve been outplayed for 20 straight minutes. 

You knew the Kings weren’t going to go quietly. After all, they are a very good team that is playoff bound and as we established earlier, they had something to play for tonight. 

The next five minutes were spent with the Kings trying to regain that momentum they had earlier, and eventually it was Adrian Kempe who broke through with a slick move coming down the right side. 

Outside, inside, under the stick of Devon Toews and a quick little chip shot over Georgiev’s blocker made it a one-goal game. 

It really felt like they would get it tied after that, you could just feel the shift in the momentum. The Kings had played too well, and it just didn’t feel like Colorado had the response that they needed in that moment.

Just past the halfway mark of the game, Mikko Rantanen got caught with his stick up high trying to get in on the forecheck, and it sent the Kings to the power play. Viktor Arvidsson cashed in, and the couple of lucky bounces the Avs got were washed out and things were back to even. 

That’s how the second period would end, and suddenly the pressure did dial up on the Avalanche. They had one period to turn things around in terms of how they were playing and steal two points in a game that they really had no business winning to that point. 

Give them credit in the third, that was their best period by a mile. They looked way more engaged and were doing so many of the little things that are the hallmarks of this team that make them so hard to beat regardless of who is in the lineup. 

Less than two minutes into the third, it was none other than Brad Hunt with an absolute rocket from the blue line to give the Avs their lead back. 

It was a huge boost for the Avs and I thought was exactly what they needed early in the period to get them out in front and able to play with a lead. They knew they were going to get a strong push from LA, and it was going to be hard for them to just go blow for blow with a. Depleted lineup, so having the lead was key. 

For Colorado’s side, this game could really be reduced down to one word: depth. 

Their stars had an off night, it happens. Colorado’s depth contributors came through big time when they needed them most, though.

Holding on to a one-goal lead, a good shift in the offense zone by the Nichushkin, Compher, Malgin line lead to a slick little passing play in front and Malgin dunked in his second of the night in the backdoor. 

A two-goal lead, just over 10 minutes to go. That’s a steep mountain for LA to climb. 

Kempe would respond back pretty quickly following Colorado’s 4th of the night, but that really was it. Not much that felt ultra-threatening the rest of the way, even when the Kings had the extra attacker on the ice. 

It was sloppy, and it was downright ugly at times. The Colorado Avalanche found a way to scratch out a win and take two points out of LA to stay at the top of the Central. 

The Avs will finish out their four-game road trip tomorrow as they take on the Anaheim Ducks at the pond. This is it, folks. Final week of the regular season is heading your way. 


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