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"Guys are consistently stepping up and finding ways to get the job done..." Avs stifle Flames in 3-1 win

Meghan Angley Avatar
November 26, 2023

The Colorado Avalanche had a quick turn around after their 3-2 victory in Minnesota last night.

Back in Ball Arena, the Avs took off from morning skate to stay as fresh as possible.

The Calgary Flames, also coming in on the second leg of a back-to-back, had an eventful night of their own with a 7-4 win over Dallas last night. Both teams were coming from a similar place.

The Avs capitalized on the sloppiness of Calgary’s game and rose to first in the Central Division with a 3-1 win tonight.

In additional positive news, Logan O’Connor and Tomas Tatar returned to the lineup. Because of the back-to-back, Ivan Prosvetov earned his third start in net.

Riley Tufte was reassigned to the Colorado Eagles this morning and aided them in their 6-3 win over Texas this afternoon.

The Avs struck first in a good first period.

On their second powerplay opportunity, Nathan MacKinnon carried the puck in on entry and got the puck to Mikko Rantanen coming in behind him. Rantanen dropped the puck back to Jonathan Drouin who carried it through the slot and wristed it past Dan Vladar.

It was Drouin’s fifth point in eight games and his second powerplay point.

“I see his skating, I see him taking control of the puck when he’s got it and then demanding it just with his skating,” Ryan Johansen said of Drouin’s performance. “He’s been really impressive as of late and I’ve had a blast playing with him this last chunk of games. He’s really been effective for our group. I’m just super happy for him right now.”

Jared Bednar corroborated Johansen’s praise.

“His game has been on a rise for more than a half a dozen games now, and he’s starting to produce,” he said. “He’s earned a spot on the top powerplay unit which I think he’s helping. That’s seven games in a row now with a powerplay goal. They’re having some success and that goal was a beautiful goal.”

The Avs had a couple trips to the box including a late delay of game penalty on Bowen Byram – his third in the last three games.

Overall it was a strong start, the Avs outshot Calgary 10-4 and prevented the Flames from getting inside ice.

In the second period, the Avs continued to withstand tough calls including a too many men bench minor.

Their kill was stellar tonight, limiting Calgary to one chance on net through four opportunities.

Midway through the period, Ryan Johansen blocked Nikita Zadorov’s pass from the blueline and burst through the neutral zone thanks to the giveaway. He collected the puck in the Flames’ end and opted for the wraparound attempt which went over Vladar’s pad with ease.

Johansen’s decision to go for the wraparound forced Vladar to come out to the side of the net – even though he kicked out the pad, Johansen anticipated this and lifted the puck cleverly on his backhand.

“Every time we get out there, we’re all trying to score and find a way to create offense. That’s just a sign of a good team and good players. Guys are consistently stepping up and finding ways to get the job done to collect wins.” Johansen said. 

Johansen wants the second line to have an impact. “We want to contribute more with the team and not have just our big boys carrying the load. We want to be difference makers too,” he said.

A couple minutes later, Avs won the d-zone face off but couldn’t get it out of their end. Blake Coleman retrieved the puck from a board battle and passed to Jonathan Huberdeau at the top of the crease. Huberdeau saw Mikael Backlund in his peripheral vision and danced around Caleb Jones to move the puck to him between Jones’ legs. Backlund one-timed it in.

It was a really skilled play from Huberdeau.

Thirty-four seconds later, Cale Makar made the breakout pass to Val Nichushkin. Nichushkin passed to Nathan MacKinnon to skate in on entry and MacKinnon set up high in the zone. A harmless move from MacKinnon to send the puck deep ended up in the back of the net.

It was his first goal in seven games after last scoring against Seattle.

It gave the Avs a little insurance after another decent period. The Flames played better than their first period, so they grew a little bit closer in the shots battle and they created more dangerous chances than before, but Colorado was still the stronger team coming out of it.

The game on the whole was a little sloppy.

Early into the third period, Calgary took issue with Miles Wood’s presence near the net after the whistle. Rasmus Andersson and MacKenzie Weegar ganged up on him and Weegar tackled him to the ground.

All three went to the box for roughing and Colorado got a powerplay with two Flames in the box.

That powerplay was sluggish and Colorado was playing a bit conservatively with the two goal lead.

Later, Ross Colton’s emotions boiled over and he took a slashing penalty after the whistle.

Colorado continued to have an excellent kill.

In the final minutes, both teams made a push – Calgary in particular of course, but the Avs remained strong.

Prosvetov finished with 29 saves on 30 chances. He was solid during Calgary’s bursts of offense.

“I thought he was outstanding tonight,” said Bednar. “It wasn’t a ton of work at times during the game and then there were some flurries. He looked really quick and strong and covers a lot of net as a big guy.”

Bednar was happy with his team’s performance and the direction of the group.

“I do that like we’re not giving up as much,” he started.

“We’re playing a better overall team game for 200-feet right now, so I feel good about it. There’s still other levels that we’re going to need to get to, but now I feel comfortable where we’re at. We’re winning games. It just seems like more of a mature game from our group.”

The energy was pretty standard for the second leg of a back-to-back.

“We had a few guys lacking a little bit of energy tonight as I’m sure they did. They played last night too,” he said. “If you’re ever gonna get a back-to-back, it’s nice that both teams are not playing on full tanks, but I thought overall team effort was pretty good: penalty kill was great again, got a good goaltending performance, scored some timely goals. They came at us in the third, but we had a couple of shifts and a couple of flurries ourselves so we could have built that lead up.”

Bednar also provided an update on injured forward Artturi Lehkonen who was in the arena walking around without a neck brace.

“He’s doing good. He’s out of the neck brace that he was in for a while,” he confirmed. “Nothing else really new to that besides the fact that he’s gone to check back in with the doctors, everything seems to be going fine. He’s lucky it wasn’t worse and now he’s starting to make some progress. He’s been around the team a little bit more and I’m sure as the days and weeks start coming, he’ll get more into the working out and rehab stuff and do what he can.”

It was a good two games from Colorado given the tough schedule. Can this act as momentum to start stringing together a win-streak?

The Avs have tomorrow off and will return to action on Monday night in Ball Arena against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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