Colorado was off to the races. A three-game win streak felt like some of the best hockey we’ve seen strung together in a long time. The Avs were looking to secure another win ahead of what is sure to be a challenging matchup against the Seattle Kraken tomorrow night.
After disappointing outings wherein the Avs lost to Vancouver twice – most recently on January 5th wherein the Avs fell 4-2 – Colorado was looking to get just one win in the series. Cale Makar took full practice in a regular contact jersey, but he was not an option tonight. In net, Alexandar Georgiev earned another start after putting up a 0.971 save percentage against Calgary last Wednesday.
About three minutes into the period, Vancouver thought they had a goal, but it was scored off J.T. Miller’s high stick and came off the board.
At 7:49 into the period, Andrew Cogliano took a high-sticking penalty against Ethan Bear and Colorado went on the kill. It was a successful kill, and Vancouver didn’t register a shot on net.
Past the midway point, hard work from Newhook in the defensive zone worked the puck away from Conor Garland and stayed with the play even from his knees. Colorado was able to dump the puck in, and Newhook continued with a gritty shift to retrieve the puck along the boards – Logan O’Connor was also in the mix there. Newhook found Andrew Cogliano at the top of the circle and Cogliano ripped a shot to the top corner, glove side.
Late in the period, Vancouver took two penalties close to one another: a delay of game and a holding penalty. The Avs would get a 5-on-3 chance to start the second period. Historically, man-advantages at the start of the period don’t always yield a ton of success, but the first period was a fine one.
Colorado outshot Vancouver 14-10 and the Avs created five dangerous chances to Vancouver’s four. Georgiev made six saves on high-to-medium danger chances.
Thirty-four seconds into its start, MacKinnon attempted the shot from up high. Evan Rodrigues collected the rebound and reset to MacKinnon. J.T. Compher posted up behind the goal line and MacKinnon fed him a pass which he tapped to Val Nichushkin. It bobbled off Nichushkin’s stick and in.
The first powerplay came off the board, but Colorado still had time at 5-on-4 for their second.
At 4:47 into the period, Cogliano took a tripping penalty on Garland. Thankfully Colorado’s kill remained perfect. This time Georgiev stopped four shots.
At the midway point, a Garland penalty and a too-many-men call gave the Avs another 5-on-3 opportunity. A MacKinnon one-timer rebounded off the back wall right to Rantanen at the goal line. Rantanen dished it in and brought the Avs up to three.
Two minutes later, Colorado experienced a tough break off the faceoff in their end and some gaffes down the middle from Erik Johnson and Sam Girard. They tried to clear the puck from the slot, but it found its way to Elias Petterson at the netfront. Petterson deked Georgiev and got him flat on his stomach for the goal.
As the period came to a close, Avs produced another impressive shift. Rantanen ate contact along the boards but was still able to shepherd the puck along the boards and was there to receive it on its way back. Rantanen worked it along the perimeter up to Brad Hunt at the point. Hunt fired a one-timer from the blueline and beat Collin Delia.
The Avs capitalized on two of their 5-on-3 chances and killed their lone penalty. Colorado outshot Vancouver 10-8, Vancouver registered five high-danger opportunities and the Avs recorded three. Georgiev made nine of ten saves on high-to-medium danger chances – the Petterson goal at the netfront definitely was considered dangerous.
Early into its start, Cogliano took his third penalty of the game, this time a slashing call.
The Avs took another penalty at 11:32, but their kill remained perfect for the night through four total chances. Georgiev stopped four high-to-medium danger chances and faced seven total shots. It was a penalty kill that was good enough and got the job done, but Georgiev unmistakably came up big. He made 28 of 29 saves and earned a 0.966 save percentage.
Through the rest of the period, Colorado implemented a conservative, possession game similar to their third period in Calgary. With a 4-1 lead, they utilized more of their depth and rotated their defense more than they did in the Calgary game. Running 11-7 again, the Avs had options within their pairings and players like Ben Meyers and Anton Blidh could take shifts among the forwards.
The Avs finished tied in shots at 29 a piece. Vancouver tried to create dangerous chances, but Georgiev was there with big saves and the Avs successfully ate up minutes. Colorado won their fourth game in a row 4-1.
Third-line success: Look, Andrew Cogliano’s penalties aren’t good. He racked up 12 penalty minutes in the last Vancouver game on January 5th and two minutes in the Calgary game alongside six minutes tonight. It’s a tough look with the antics of the other Vancouver game in the rearview. Even still, in his last six games, Cogliano has two goals and an assist. In Logan O’Connor’s last six games he has two assists – both in the January 14th Ottawa game which was a turning point for the union of this line with Alex Newhook.
Newhook has two goals and two assists in his last six. Like O’Connor, his big break comes about in a three-point night in the Ottawa game. Keeping this line intact has heightened Newhook’s bottom line. The struggling sophomore has been seeking stability and has found some semblance of it on the gritty, hard-working third line. What has worked for them is a combination of Cogliano’s and O’Connor’s relentless pursuit of the puck on the forecheck and a ramped-up intensity in Newhook to do the same and step up into play more confidently.
Board battles: The play along the perimeter has brought the Avs success in this recent string of games. The above point talks about the success of the third line: three of their goals in recent memory come about from their participation to engage in puck battles along the board. Beyond the third line, Mikko Rantanen’s hot pursuit of the puck on Brad Hunt’s goal tonight brought direct success. He had to wear a great deal of contact on the play but committed to it from start to finish and Hunt’s shot proved fruitful. It’s honest work and has helped the Avs to mitigate their scoring woes with simple, hard work.