Nathan MacKinnon

Two goals and an assist got him to the 100-point mark for the first time in his career. Seems fitting to happen in San Jose after he tried so hard a few years ago in the final game of the season when he was stuck on 99 points and was doing everything he could to crack 100.

A few things have changed between the Sharks and Avalanche in those few years and one of them is that MacKinnon can now call himself a member of the 100-point season club. It’s not a REAL club, mind you, but a cool milestone for a player who has finished with 99 and 97 points in previous years.

Back on January 1, MacKinnon had played just 24 games to that point and registered only 8 goals and 34 points. The morning of April 5, he’s played in 65 games and has 36 goals and 100 points. If anyone is curious, the 82-game pace MacKinnon has put up in the last 41 games: 56 goals, 76 assists, 132 points. That wouldn’t be a bad season.

About tonight, thought, MacKinnon was just spectacular. His line was the only one consistently causing problems for the Sharks and it was evident they were more hanging on to dear life than actually thriving when MacKinnon was on the ice. While so much focus went to Mikko Rantanen and his chase for 50 goals, we saw the more emotionally mature player quietly complete his chase tonight with a three-point effort while Rantanen continues to squeeze the stick in search of his own meaningful milestone.

MacKinnon got his tonight and it was well-earned as he was, to my eye, Colorado’s most consistently dangerous skater out there. He was fantastic tonight. I thought other players played pretty well (see: Evan Rodrigues), but I’m happy leaving this space just for MacKinnon on the night of a notable achievement.


Mikko Rantanen in overtime

It’s pretty hard to call a guy with 15 shot attempts and who was all over the ice throughout the night a dud in the game overall, but I thought Rantanen was pretty terrible in overtime.

I have frequently lamented some of his decision-making in the 3v3 format, where you just have to be so smart with the puck because losing it can often mean giving up a very high-quality scoring chance the other way if you make a mistake. Those mistakes usually end games.

The two-on-zero save made by Georgiev (see below) starts when Rantanen misses the net entirely and creates the scoring chance for Labanc and old friend Jacob MacDonald. Just before that, however, was this nightmare of a sequence from Rantanen.

It starts with Rantanen failing to go 1v3 against every Sharks skater on the ice while his two teammates, wide at the flanks to maximize space upon entering the zone, stand and watch this unnecessarily aggressive attempt.

This leaves Rantanen as the last man back trying to pick through the defense. Byram and Rantanen communicate at their own blueline on who Rantanen should try taking, but it was honestly too late and Byram needed to commit to that sooner than he did. The slow communication results in a shot on goal, then Rantanen loses the guy on the backdoor he was supposed to take.

Rantanen overskates the rebound, falls down, and leaves Lorentz wide open in the middle of the ice with the puck. Georgiev bails him out with another save. Shortly after, the sequence at the bottom of this piece that led to Georgiev’s shining overtime moment took place.

That’s an absolute gong show of an overtime from Rantanen.

Colorado’s third period

Another game, another blown third-period lead to a bad team. We saw this recently against Arizona when they squandered 2-0 and 3-2 leads, now a 3-1 lead to San Jose disappears in a matter of minutes.

It’s just bad hockey.

I don’t know what any better way to say it. They are making crippling mistakes in crucial situations and teams are taking advantage of them. These are bad teams, mind you! What’s going to happen when the postseason begins? Those are actual good teams that punish you for little mistakes, let alone big ones.

It’s just a disheartening pattern from the team that has seen way too many games like this. They’re so talented they can scrape by in the regular season with nonsense like this, but the playoffs are a different ballgame. They won’t be successful there unless their commitment to playing the right way takes a significant leap. They just won’t. They have so much better in them, it’s frustrating to see another game like this.

Colorado’s defense

I know the underlying shot metrics look pretty good, but it felt like there were just brutal, brutal mistakes by each defenseman tonight at various points. Some were punished, some weren’t. That’s how hockey is, you know? I just couldn’t pinpoint one player that really struggled above all the others. It was a team effort.

One guy whose struggles surprised me the most was Devon Toews. There have been a few more games this year than in years past where Toews has made some really bizarre decisions. An inexcusably bad pinch helped create San Jose’s first goal and then a myriad of blunders followed him the rest of the game and into overtime. He got the game-winning assist as a gift from Erik Karlsson, but you appreciate Toews didn’t make any mistakes with that on his stick.

Colorado’s forward usage

I’m not even disagreeing with Jared Bednar on this one. Not even a little bit, in fact, but I do think it’s concerning when the Avs have five (!!) forwards over 20 minutes, a sixth who got to 16:48, and then not a single forward broke the 12-minute mark.

Again, this isn’t a criticism of the coaching staff splitting things up this way, but more of a reflection that Colorado’s bottom six forwards are badly struggling to generate the trust of the coaching staff. Given that’s where a lot of veteran players are hanging on to jobs, it feels very discouraging on the surface. Please hurry back, Artturi Lehkonen.

Unsung Hero

Alexandar Georgiev

The moment it happened, I knew what I was writing for this section tonight. Georgiev wasn’t incredible tonight. The three goals against are far more attributable to the defense in front of him than Georgiev himself, though you’d love a save somewhere on one of them (easy to say, obviously).

He really had not been a major factor in the game either way until the start of overtime. Once OT got going though, it was a chaotic mess for everyone involved. Both teams were completely out of sync and it produced an ugly, weird overtime session that included some pretty good goaltending and some pretty terrible play from the skaters.

None of the stops was bigger than Georgiev on Kevin Labanc’s one-time attempt that would have given Labanc the hat trick. Georgiev got across the ice as he was staring down a two-on-zero the entire length of the ice. He waited, tracked the puck, then got across his crease to shut down Labanc’s opportunity.

The Avs would win a few minutes later. When we talk about a goaltender sometimes just needing to be “one save better”, Georgiev gave the Avalanche that save in overtime. Here’s video of it.


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