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"I wish I got the breakaway goal..." Alexandar Georgiev's confidence is on the rise as he strives for even better following 4-1 win
The Colorado Avalanche had one more game at home before taking off for a three game road trip later this week.
Before they could fly out, they had business to handle in Ball Arena against the 10-6-5 Tampa Bay Lightning – now 10-7-5 after tonight.
The Lightning started the year without two-time finalist and Vezina winner, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Both teams were fully loaded with Alexandar Georgiev in net for the Avs and Vasilevskiy opposite him. It made for a fun goaltending matchup.
Tonight the Avs advanced to second in the Western Conference a point back from Vegas with a game in hand.
Georgiev walked away with one goal-against in the 4-1 win, and it was an especially impressive showing in net that got them there.
“I don’t compare myself to other goalies when we play,” Georgiev admitted. “I got my own game and I feel like I try to be my best every day,” he said. “As a team, I feel those big, better opponents in the league are big games for us to see where we’re at as well.”
Even though the Avs had to kill two penalties in the first period, they came out of it all right.
The Lightning had a slight shot advantage, but Colorado created better quality chances.
Near the ten-minute mark, the puck rimmed around the boards in the Avs’ end and out. Ryan Johansen clocked this and benefitted from Victor Hedman taking a spill in the neutral zone.
Johansen was free to skate in on Nick Perbix with Jonathan Drouin on his flank. He spotted Drouin but opted to take a snapshot off Vasilevskiy’s blocker and in.
They had plenty to feel good about in that period.
Early into the second, Tomas Tatar helped to kick things off by blocking a Tampa lane. Cale Makar retrieved the loose puck and got things going, dodging Brayden Point for a clean exit.
Makar’s initial slot pass was blocked by Mikhail Sergachev, but it went straight back to Makar. Makar successfully made the pass to Tatar at the left post and Tatar banked it on net. Vasilevskiy made the kick save, but Johansen was there to bang home the rebound.
It was Johansen’s third goal in two games and Tatar’s first point in four games adding to a tally of eight on the season so far.
Bednar believes consistency within the second line has helped to bring them each success.
“He’s skating a little bit better through the neutral zone,” Bednar said of Johansen. “That speed through the neutral zone and him getting up to speed with us and the whole line getting better at managing the puck and working as a connected group is helping. It’s all three new players playing on that line and it can take a little bit, especially for skill guys to get to know each other’s tendencies.”
Tampa took a penalty shortly after, and the Avs were buzzing. Their passes connected, but it was ultimately Makar’s shot from up high that sealed the deal.
About midway through, it seemed like Tampa’s Mikey Eyssimont bested Georgiev but the play was deemed offside thanks to a successful challenge.
The Lightning continued their trips to the penalty box with two penalties one after the other. The Avs were more limited in these, but Bednar was happy with the powerplay as a whole tonight.
Near the end of the period, Bowen Byram went off for hooking.
The kill remained perfect, but Tampa did gain a little momentum from it.
As the clock ticked down, Hedman made a stretch pass to Anthony Cirelli up ice on the breakaway. Cirelli got ahead of Manson and Byram thanks to his reach on Hedman’s pass and beat Georgiev all alone.
The second period felt more like Tampa’s game compared to their first – they gained an edge in the shots and possession battle, but the Avs were there step for step.
The difference was that one team was chasing and the other capitalized on opportunities early to build some insurance.
In the final period, the Lightning continued to apply pressure. Credit to the Avalanche: because Tampa made a consistent push for a near full-sixty minutes, they had to continue to be sharp
The Lightning put up twelve shots to the Avs’ seven in the third period and eight high-danger to their one.
A holding penalty left Tampa down a man, but their push contained five shorthanded shots.
Once they returned to full strength, the puck came out of play in the Avs’ end and MacKinnon beat Brandon Hagel to the puck and set Val Nichushkin up for the empty net goal.
Shots were 38-23 in favor of Tampa to further emphasize the heavy volume of shots poured on Colorado.
It didn’t look so lopsided in person, but it’s not without praising the solid play of Georgiev who stopped 37 of those chances including about 24 high-to-medium danger shots.
“They’re trailing in the game and they’re throwing it to the net from all areas,” said Bednar. “We took care of the rebounds pretty well, protected the slot. We had some big blocks ourselves. That’s the second game in a row now we got great goaltending.”
“He’s given us some real good starts here recently. I think tonight was probably the best,” he added of Georgiev’s night. “That was an outstanding performance in goal.”
“I wish I got the breakaway goal,” Georgiev started in his postgame, lamenting Cirelli’s lone goal-against. “Overall I think we played good, smart hockey.”
Georgiev said that things have felt pretty good lately and that he knew the results would come. “I just try to focus on my game. I analyze what happened and keep moving on.”
The win helped to build momentum too. “It’s big. A really good team we played against, (so it) feels good to get a great result here.”
Ultimately Tampa’s penalties costed them any chance of climbing back into this game and Georgiev ensured they wouldn’t.
Johansen’s contributions early on provided the Avs leverage and forced Tampa to play desperately.
They will have two more practice days before they head to Arizona. Consistent reps have helped the second line to find chemistry, and it couldn’t come at a better time.