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With the Colorado Avalanche coming off their second four-day break in two weeks, there was an expectation of rust as they played just their sixth home game of the year tonight against the Nashville Predators. The leaders of the western conference were also coming off a four-day break so the brisk pace of play at the outset was a mild surprise.
That play did not go in Colorado’s favor, however, as Nashville jumped out to a nice shot advantage early on despite the Avalanche getting the game’s first power play.
That Predators pressure resulted in them finding the net first when noted Avalanche killer Colton Sissons got lost in a shuffle of bodies and Sam Girard was unable to locate him in time to prevent him from banging home a rebound to give Nashville the 1-0 lead.
Nashville kept pouring it on the Avs and Sissons beat Semyon Varlamov under his blocker with a half-slapper that Varlamov would no doubt like a second chance on. The goal was just the 25th of Sissons’ career but his seventh against the Avalanche in just 10 games. Sissons, you might remember, also demonstrated his bizarre mastery of the Avalanche with six points in their six-game playoff series (he had none in Nashville’s seven-game series against Winnipeg).
The 2-0 Nashville lead held up through the first period but didn’t stand for long as Ian Cole scored 1:29 into the second period. Nashville challenged the goal as Sam Girard had made an awesome spin move at the blue line and the puck may or may not have come all the way out of the zone (it looked inconclusive to me, I’m sure some of y’all will disagree) but the crew in Toronto clearly saw enough to call it no-goal and the goal was wiped off the board.
Colorado would eventually get a goal that counted but not without a little controversy on that one either as Matt Calvert tipped a Girard slap shot that was initially waved off immediately for a high stick. The referees conferred and changed their on-ice call to a good goal and the play went to review but the goal stood after the review, making it 2-1 for real that time.
An increasingly physical second period wound down and saw Mikko Rantanen take a lazy (and soft) slashing penalty that turned into a disaster. Sissons tipped a Kyle Turris shot past Varlamov for the hat trick with just three seconds remaining left in the second period.
The third period started with a predictable slow pace as Nashville looked to grind their two-goal lead into an easy two points. The Avalanche spent a few minutes playing into the hands of their opponents but a great pinch by Ian Cole led to a Colin Wilson goal with 12:21 remaining in the third period. Because Colorado couldn’t score goals without controversy tonight, the play went to a replay. Upon further review, it was called no goal as the play was determined to be offside (my opinion: I didn’t see a conclusive view) and Colorado lost their second goal of the night.
Colorado never really mounted a serious threat the rest of the way and an empty-net goal by Nashville brought the game to its final conclusion of 4-1.
Since it became a topic of discussion after the game, I’ll drop it here as well. In the last four years, Colorado is now 3-11 in games officiated by Eric Furlatt (0-8 in the last three years) and Nashville is now 10-2 in the last four years in Furlatt-officiated games.