Well, that was a little better.
Following the team’s dreadful loss on home ice to the St. Louis Blues two nights ago, the Colorado Avalanche traveled to the friendly confines of Seattle to take on the Kraken for the third time in the season’s first 14 games.
They split the first two with the Kraken eeking out a win in regulation last week in Denver so this was the rubber match to decide the season series.
It started as the previous nine matchups between these two teams have: Seattle scored first and the Avalanche were forced to play catch up against the always-feisty Kraken.
The first period did not indicate Jared Bednar’s outward unhappiness after the game on Saturday had too much of an impact, even for an altered lineup that saw three newcomers make their Avalanche debuts (Joel Kiviranta, Sam Malinski, Caleb Jones).
The Avs got down 1-0 mere minutes into the contest when Brandon Tanev knocked home a rebound. Colorado would continue its lethargic first period before getting an opportunity on the power play and a chance to turn the game around.
Turn the game around it did as they gave up a shorthanded goal almost immediately after the power play started thanks to a terrible giveaway by Cale Makar and then Alexander Wennberg banging home his third chance after a two-on-one.
Bednar challenged for goaltender interference and won based on Tanev making contact with Alexandar Georgiev’s pad inside the crease and without anyone pushing him into it. The goal came off the board and the Avs had second life.
They didn’t do much with it right away, but at least they weren’t in a two-goal hole again. The start of the second period changed things around for Colorado as they finally got to their game off the back of hard work from their top line.
Mikko Rantanen cleaned up a puck in front, Ross Colton did the same a few minutes later, and the Avs carried a 2-1 lead into the third period.
The Avs have been an outrageously good third-period team this season in the games they’ve been competitive (the non-Seattle losses…not so much) and they turned in a virtuoso performance in that stage of the game.
Colorado scored three goals in the third period as Makar, Jonathan Drouin, and Val Nichushkin all got on the board. On the other side, Seattle managed one shot on goal. In fact, the Kraken’s second-to-last shot on goal was with 2:44 left in the second period and their only shot in the third came with 1:37 to play.
The Avs went more than 20 straight minutes without allowing a single shot to get through to Georgiev all while extending their lead from 2-1 to the game’s final score of 5-1. There certainly was no turtle from Colorado tonight.
This is where I take a step back and look at the bigger picture and say that while the end result is what the Avs needed, they were very close to letting this game get too far in the wrong direction.
Being down 2-0 (or worse) after the first period would have been a recipe for a real problem, especially given the emotional fragility on display from this team so far this season.
Instead, things went their way following the challenge and the Avs eventually got to their game. Once they did, they dominated Seattle and watched as the fiercely competitive Kraken wilted on home ice. It was similar to what the Blues had just done to the Avalanche, but not quite as resounding (at least in terms of goals) but probably more meaningful because Seattle has now won only five of their 16 games and are just 2-5 at home.
They could be in trouble while this result could be the beginning of the Avalanche getting back to playing the kind of hockey they are clearly capable of. I’m always cautious about anointing a team’s best play as their “true” ability because every team looks pretty good on their best nights, but this wasn’t a case of the Avalanche being at their best for three periods.
In reality, this was more like 30 minutes of great hockey and 30 minutes of lackluster-at-best hockey. To win 5-1 in a game where half of it is clearly an area of improvement should be a good thing, not something to be concerned over.
If the Avs can string together consecutive wins on Wednesday when the Anaheim Ducks come to town, tonight could ultimately end up viewed as the building block victory that helped get Colorado back on track. That’s certainly the goal now that they’ve put Saturday’s horror show in the rearview mirror.