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On September 21, 2016, the hockey world was treated to one of the most entertaining games in recent memory. The World Cup of Hockey was being played for the first time since 2004 and in an attempt to ramp up the interest, as well as get more players involved, the NHL decided to put together a team of players aged 23 and younger from either the US or Canada to compete as their own “nation”. The team was filled with electrifying young talent and a ton of skill.
The game that day was one that saw Team North America needing a win against a Sweden team that had been perfect so far in the tournament, as their roster featured just as many superstars as any other. An unbelievably entertaining game between two amazing teams, of course, needed a 3-on-3 overtime to decide a winner and it was the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon that scored a goal so spectacular, that even Minnesota Wild fans couldn’t watch it enough.
The finish on the play was so impressive that many people completely forget that the play to set up MacKinnon was almost just as special. A North American forechecker wins a race to a loose puck to save what would’ve been a clean breakaway, and takes a hit while making a no-look pass to a wide-open MacKinnon.
That forechecker was Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames.
Gaudreau, now two years older than he was when he set up MacKinnon’s overtime winner, leads the charge of a talented Calgary Flames offense that is looking for a bounce-back win on the road after taking a beating two nights ago in St. Louis.
“Every team has one or two guys, really,” Colorado captain Gabe Landeskog, who was on the losing side of that 2016 OT thriller, said after morning skate. “Or a line at least some teams have more than that. And Calgary is one of them.”
It is easy to forget about some of the “other guys” on a team when you have someone with as much skill as Gaudreau to worry about. But Colorado’s leaders in the room seem focused on making sure the Avs are not overlooking teams, and playing within their system.
“They’re deep,” Landeskog said. “We just have to make sure we’re playing five men in the D zone and five men in the O zone and make sure we’re taking care of things off the rush. We’ve got to be sure we make good decisions with the puck through the neutral zone, and when they do get rolling in our zone, we’ve got to make sure we’re playing them hard and playing our structure”.
Sven Andrighetto skated with the team for the first time today since sustaining a lower-body injury in the preseason. He is not expected to travel with the team immediately on the upcoming road trip, but head coach Jared Bednar said Andrighetto will skate on his own over the next couple of days, and hopefully join the team later on the trip.
The same lineup is expected tonight as played in Buffalo. Tonight’s game will be the second game of SportsNet’s Hockey Night in Canada. It is also the first ever Colorado Girl’s Hockey Night at Pepsi Center. Barring any last minute changes, the lineup for tonight will be as follows:
Landeskog – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Wilson – Jost – Kerfoot
Nieto – Soderberg – Bourque
Kamenev – Compher – Calvert
Girard – Johnson
Cole – Barrie
Zadorov – Nemeth