Colorado’s six-game winning streak ended in disastrous fashion as they took a game they were completely dominating via process and leading 3-1 in and threw it all in the trash can with a terrible 15 minutes that allowed the Anaheim Ducks to win 5-3.


Sam Girard

A goal and an assist tonight are the headlines, but both points are really him being on the other end of spectacular plays from Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. That’s perfectly fine, of course, because nobody complains when that’s the case with Cale Makar. As we saw later in the game, there are no sure things in hockey, even when the puck is on your stick and the net is mostly open.

Girard was great all over the ice, however, as he bailed out Erik Johnson on multiple occasions defensively, blocking shots and using his stick to disrupt passing lanes. It was an exceptional overall effort from Girard, who absolutely needs to step his game up to this level more than he has so far this year.

The Avs dominated in shot attempts (30-15), shots on goal (19-7), and scoring chances (16-10) with Girard on the ice at 5v5. While high-danger chances (9-7) were closer, none of the chances against him went in.

Colorado’s third line

The trio of Andrew Cogliano/Alex Newhook/Logan O’Connor was awesome together once again. While the lines are always going to get a little scrambly in an 11-forward alignment, this group has been so good as a unit that Jared Bednar hasn’t been splitting them up much.

Tonight, this group played 8:28 at 5v5 together, and shot attempts were 8-1 in their favor with them also getting the best of the scoring chances (3-0). They didn’t score, but that’s largely because LOC simply cannot beat a goaltender. He once again had a golden scoring chance on the doorstep and couldn’t find a way to score. Despite that, you absolutely could not complain about these guys when they were on the ice together. They were awesome.

Mikko Rantanen

I had lots of issues with Colorado’s top-six forwards tonight but Rantanen was not in that group. He came out early in the game and set the tone that he meant business tonight. He was all over the place, working hard and keeping his game clean and simple.

The goal he scores is absolute perfection. If a coach wants to teach somebody how to one-time a puck, this is the goal you show. It was perfectly timed, with the puck flattened out and no wobble in sight. It’s perfectly located where no goaltender in the world can stop that.

Absolutely perfect. This was a big night for the big moose.

Special teams

The Avs won this battle again as they scored a power-play goal and killed both chances the Ducks had with the man advantage. The numbers weren’t overwhelming and it wasn’t as if Colorado’s power play was unstoppable or anything, this is simply giving a nod to the results here. One of many reasons the Avs had to win this game was they did the work on special teams. They got the job done. Tough to watch their 5v5 play against such a bad club unravel all of that work.


Pavel Francouz

Nights like this are the worst. Francouz is one of my favorite people in the sport, a genuinely kind and happy human being who deserves plenty of love. As a goaltender, I’ve long thought of him as one of the league’s better backup goalies and his play has certainly been of that level.

He was good-great in his last three starts before watching Alexandar Georgiev play exceptionally well over the last week. Tonight was the classic situation where a team turns to its backup against weaker competition in hopes of being able to snag those two points without having to wear down the starter any.

Francouz had a couple of big stops but overall was a mess. The Ducks scored four on him and three were goals that Francouz’s own missteps played major roles on. The first goal is a huge rebound kicked into space from Francouz. It’s not the worst result, but Frank Vatrana got to it first and made a great shot to beat him for Anaheim’s first of the night. You don’t love the rebound, the rest you aren’t putting on Francouz.

Goal two is coming at the end of an extended defensive possession, but the reality is that Francouz allows Vatrano to score from behind the red line. If his post was properly sealed, there’s no chance that puck slips in. Far too much space was available and Vatrano found it. Bad from Francouz.

The third goal is not one that any goaltender can do a damn thing about. It’s atrocious defense from everyone involved.

The fourth goal, however, is the one that really kills me. Mason McTavish is a great young player who is going to score plenty of goals in his NHL career. This…should not have been one of them. There’s no tip, there’s no meaningful screen, there’s nothing. Francouz gets beat on a clean look from distance. It’s unacceptable.

Colorado’s top line

One of the major advantages the Avalanche has in nearly every game is their top guys are simply better than the top guys on the other team.

How in the world, then, does a line of Lehkonen/MacKinnon/Rodrigues get chewed up and dominated by a quartet of McTavish/Troy Terry/Adam Henrique/Vatrano?

Those are all varying degrees of quality NHL players, but MacKinnon is a top-five player and he’s flanked by two guys having career years who have played great hockey this year.

As a line, they were outshot 10-3 and got cratered in quality, too, as they allowed 11 scoring chances and six high-danger chances while they created just five and four, respectively.

The play from MacKinnon that led to Girard’s goal is all-world, exceptional stuff. The rest of the night? It could have all been redeemed in the final two minutes when MacKinnon and Rodrigues both hit posts, but they didn’t. Instead, them getting rolled over on will stand out instead.

Somehow, MacKinnon’s individual numbers are even worse as the Ducks had 33 of their 46 shot attempts at 5v5 with him on the ice. 13 of their 16 high-danger chances? Against MacKinnon. Unbelievably bad night for #29.

Erik Johnson and Kurtis MacDermid

Originally, I thought Andreas Englund and Brad Hunt were going to be clumped in here, too, but in rewatching it all I found myself far more frustrated by these two guys in particular. Hunt’s hail mary attempt to bail out MacDermid on Anaheim’s third goal almost worked, but was easily his worst play of the evening.

No, these two guys produced really poor efforts in this one. I was hopeful that Cale Makar’s return to the lineup meant a little mitigation for both players as their minutes could drop a little bit. That happened, but only as a result of really poor play.

The real problem here was when they were together. Apart, they were each okay for the most part (we’ll get there), but together? Such an unmitigated disaster that Bednar should do everything under the sun to avoid pairing them together on Saturday when the Blues come to town.

Not even two minutes were spent together and they allowed seven shots on goal, six scoring chances, and five high-danger chances. Oh, and Anaheim’s goal at the end of the second period that helped spark the comeback. Let’s look at this absolute fiasco of a shift.

This isn’t on any single player, of course, as MacDermid, Andrew Cogliano, and Johnson all had opportunities to clear the puck in different spots. Here those are.

The last whiff by Johnson was followed immediately by Anaheim’s second goal.

MacDermid wasn’t quite done, however, as he badly misplayed an entire defensive zone sequence that led to Anaheim’s game-tying goal in the third period.

That would be his final shift of the game in what has to be one of his worst individual performances of the season. MacDermid is just sort of drifting around when the puck enters the zone, he hard commits to a footrace he badly loses, gets badly exposed as out of position when Terry goes to inside ice (why would MacDermid ever leave that area?) and everyone is scrambling trying to make up for it after.

The only real criticism I have here is that Evan Rodrigues provides zero resistance to Henrique. It was a very soft effort in front of his own net.

Unsung Hero

Ben Meyers

To be honest, there just isn’t a great candidate for this category tonight. Maybe I could have put the special teams down here instead, but I was once again a fan of what Meyers brought to the table.

He is now regularly utilizing his speed to create chances in the offensive zone, sometimes going so far as being a chaos demon on the forecheck. That was a little more muted tonight, but the numbers are still hilarious.

With Ben Meyers on the ice at 5v5 tonight, the Avs did this:

  • 12-0 Corsi
  • 7-0 shots on goal
  • 5-0 scoring chances
  • 3-0 high-danger chances

I get it. You’re reading that and saying, “But AJ, he didn’t score and they lost.” It’s all true, but also that’s what makes him “Unsung” in this game. You have to believe the production is coming someday with how often he is creating scoring chances for the Avs, but it wasn’t there again tonight.

If he gets Matt Nieto and Denis Malgin as his regular linemates on the other side of the All-Star break, that’s a pretty formidable fourth line and will give Bednar adequate depth that he has lacked since early December.


A.J. Haefele was born in Aurora, Colorado, raised in Katy, Texas and is the Colorado Avalanche beat reporter for DNVR. AJ helped launch the network back in 2015 and has filled roles as a team leader and Editor-In- Chief, along with co-hosting the DNVR draft podcasts along with his other duties. You can hear him every weekday on the DNVR Avalanche podcast. Follow AJ on Twitter - @returnofaj