The third period
I want to start here. There’s back in the first (see below) and much better in the second, but the third period is where teams close games out. Being a great team in the third period is one of those traits that is shared by nearly every championship team in the NHL’s long and storied history. It is a hallmark of greatness to close teams out.
I will leave any hand-wringing about slow starts for another day because this was close to an immaculate final frame. Going from a 2-1 game to a 5-1 game and scoring three times as many goals as shots against allowed is one of those video game statistics that you need to double-check after the game to make sure it is actually correct (I have checked many times and it is, in fact, true).
What more can you ask for from the team? They rolled lines, everyone contributed, and there probably could have been two or three more goals scored because of the odd-man rushes generated once the Avs were in full control of the game and using their legs to cram pucks down into Seattle’s end of the ice. It was a dominant conclusion that showed why this Avalanche team can be so scary when it gets rolling.
Nathan MacKinnon had three assists, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist, and Cale Makar added a goal and an assist. The Holy Trinity each producing a multi-point game is going to result in winning games far more than losing them and tonight was no different.
When these guys are on top of their games (again, it took a while but they got there), the Avalanche win. Plain and simple. They are built around their stars being better than what other teams have to offer and, well, they are correct.
This was the rebound the Avs needed from their best players.
The new guys
Caleb Jones and Sam Malinski slotted in on defense for Sam Girard and Josh Manson while Joel Kiviranta and Kurtis MacDermid came in for Artturi Lehkonen and Riley Tufte. All four did their jobs, though MacDermid’s complete lack of trust from the coaching staff doesn’t inspire much confidence as he played only 2:47 and only had one shift in each of periods two and three.
MacDermid did what he is here to do, however, when he beat up Jamie Oleksiak, the player whose hit injured Lehkonen last week. So, mission accomplished there, I guess.
Kiviranta did well on the penalty kill and his speed looked like the same quality fit that it appeared to be in the preseason. He was solid and reliable and his performance tonight is exactly what the Avs are hoping to get out of veteran injury call-ups.
Malinski played most of the preseason and struggled quite a bit throughout but none of that translated to tonight. He moved pucks well and defended as needed. This was very encouraging.
The best night of the new faces, however, belonged to Jones. There was already a pretty reasonable argument that Jones should at least be splitting the 6D job with Jack Johnson and tonight we saw the upside in the player. His skating and puck skills both popped tonight and he engaged physically and notched an assist on a nice play from the blueline that helped create the third goal that iced the game.
All in all, this was a great night for the new faces and the kind of quality fill-in play that the Avs struggled so badly to get last season.
It was almost a “duds” kind of night but when the shorthanded goal by the Kraken was called back, the Avs responded well and scored on two of their six power plays (two of those were cut short by other penalties) while conceding nothing on the penalty kill.
This was a bounce-back kind of night for the much-maligned special team units. They can’t be messing around and giving up odd-man rushes with the man advantage but it was pretty great to see both units score goals as Ross Colton and then Val Nichushkin got the tallies. That’s lineup versatility.
The first period
Honestly, it was pretty disappointing to see Colorado and all of its championship culture respond to getting humiliated on home ice by doing very little of note during the opening frame of this game. Seattle scoring first is clockwork at this point. It was the 11th time this season the Kraken had scored first while the 10th time in 14 games the Avs have given up the first goal of the game.
Seattle was all over the Avalanche and it started to feel like far too much of the same nonsense we’ve been seeing from this team recently, especially in its last three road games when it got beaten by a combined score of 14-0.
Things went from bad to disastrous when the Avs opened their first power play chance of the game by promptly giving the puck away and watching the Kraken score a shorthanded goal the other way to go down 2-0. Jared Bednar successfully challenged for goaltender interference but the Avs absolutely got away with one there.
The period ended with the Avs only down 1-0 but it could (should?) have been worse. They mustered only two scoring chances in the entire 20 minutes. That’s awful. It got way better, obviously, but what a frustrating sight it was to see them open the game that way.
Welcome back, Georgie. It’s been a while.
Georgiev had such a dominant start to the season and then such an unsightly follow-up to it that it felt like that strong start was a million years ago. The Avalanche needed a strong performance from their number one goaltender and he delivered.
After being bailed out by the goal called back due to goaltender interference, Georgiev locked it down the rest of the night. The Kraken might have struggled to generate scoring chances and shots on goal, but Georgiev kept his team in it until they found their legs and took complete control of the final 30 minutes.
There were larger highlights to get into tonight but seeing Georgiev put a strong performance such as this on the ice was very encouraging.
Tomas Tatar and Johnathan Drouin
The former Montreal Canadien forwards have had their own struggles this year but collectively have felt just about the same. Tonight was a good one for both as Tatar added two assists and Drouin got his first goal in an Avalanche sweater when, big shock, MacKinnon fed him the puck on an odd-man rush and Drouin beat Joey Daccord.
It was a cool moment that a lot of people have waited a long time to see. It would be great if that was an indicator that both of their seasons were turning around and getting going in the right direction. We’ll see how that all goes, but for one night, good for both of these guys to get some production on the board.