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Nathan MacKinnon helps Avs overcome three goal deficit in 14th comeback win of the year

Meghan Angley Avatar
January 14, 2024

The Avalanche earned their second three-goal comeback win this season against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It was their 14th comeback win of the year, and they did it without Val Nichushkin (illness), Miles Wood (illness), Bowen Byram (LBI), and Artturi Lehkonen (UBI).

Colorado won 5-3.

Though reinforcements are on the way, Colorado’s dangerously depleted lineup became thinner.

Jack Johnson exited the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Goaltender Justus Annunen was recalled during the contest and will join the Avs on their road trip to give Colorado a third goalie option.

Things started a bit hairy for Colorado. They went down 3-0 in the first period.

Ross Colton lost the d-zone draw and the Leafs moved the puck around the perimeter. Logan O’Connor tried to clear the puck from Mark Giordano, but it bounced to Max Domi out high. Domi wristed a shot in the direction of the net and it bounced off Josh Manson’s chest over Alexandar Georgiev’s blocker.

A few minutes later, Morgan Rielly came out of the corner with the puck in his own end past Jonathan Drouin. He exited with the puck and lifted it ahead at center ice.

It went right to Devon Toews, but Rielly poked the puck away and forced the turnover. Rielly got inside Cale Makar and Toews and backhanded the puck over Georgiev’s glove. Toronto went end to end and found their second goal of the game on their sixth shot due to a team-wide defensive lapse. 

For the final goal, Giordano sent the puck on net from the point and chaos ensued. Sam Girard tried to nudge the puck to Georgiev to cover it, but Pontus Holmberg furiously chipped away at it. The puck dribbled away from the crease and Timothy Liljegren burst in from behind to bang it in.

Toronto outshot the Avs 15-7, but the Avs created more high-danger chances 8-7 and managed to control possession in spite of the three goal deficit.

From the goaltender out, Colorado locked it down from that point on.

In the second period, the Avs received their first powerplay opportunity of the game.

Nathan MacKinnon helped to retrieve the puck for Ross Colton after the offensive zone faceoff. Colton was high-sticked after the draw, so a delayed call was assessed. Because the Avs had posession they played on and moved the puck.

MacKinnon sent the puck to Colton at the post and Colton quickly fed Drouin in the slot. Colton’s pass snuck past Jake McCabe and Drouin one-timed the puck past Martin Jones.

In addition to their powerplay goal, they continued to put three additional shots on net during the extended time.

The Avs took one penalty, but they limited Toronto’s sixth best in the league powerplay to two shots on net and created a shorthanded chance of their own.

Midway through the period, MacKinnon and Drouin carried the puck in on entry. Mikko Rantanen tried to keep possession and took a tumble. Auston Matthews got the puck and turned it over to Girard thanks to pressure from MacKinnon breathing down his back. Girard dished a slapshot on net and Rantanen settled it and moved it around Matthew Knies to put it in the back of the net.

The comeback was not complete yet, but the momentum was shifted.

In the third period, the depth grinded out a greasy shift. O’Connor, Joel Kiviranta, Andrew Cogliano, and Josh Manson ran around the o-zone like bulls in a China shop.

O’Connor helped get the puck to Andrew Cogliano for the initial shot attempt and Cogliano chased down his own rebound and set Manson up out high. Manson’s shot hit Cogliano en route, but Cogliano was able to settle the puck and wrist it on net himself for the tying goal.

O’Connor extended his point streak to six games.

MacKinnon was a monster all night and finally got rewarded with one of his own. He got the puck to Drouin to lead the charge on the rush. Drouin dropped the puck to Rantanen and Rantanen waited to slip the puck across the slot to MacKinnon at the left-circle. MacKinnon held the puck and waited for McCabe to drop to the ice in desperation and wristed the puck over Jones’ glove.

Nathan MacKinnon scored the 60th game-winning goal of his NHL career and passed Milan Hejduk for sole possession of second place on the franchise’s all-time list. Ahead of him is Joe Sakic.

With a two-point night, MacKinnon was one point away from becoming the fastest player in Avalanche team history to reach 70 points in a season.

With help from Ryan Johansen and Kiviranta, Colton finally found the back of the net after a missed attempt went post seconds before. Colton threw his head back in relief after the first attempt didn’t go his way.

The Avs held Toronto to just one high-danger chance in the final period and just six shots on net.

Georgiev finished the night with 26 saves on 29 shots and continues to lead the league in wins, starts, and minutes.

They showed a lot of maturity not letting the first period become a death sentence

Colorado has four more games on the road trip including a back-to-back against Montreal and Ottawa. Toronto might have been slated to be the toughest of the trip, but Boston and Philadelphia might give them headaches too, so it’s important they nabbed two points tonight.

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