Every year going into the season, you know there are going to be a couple of games that you lose because the opposing goaltender just refuses to give in. On the flip side, you know you’re going to steal a couple of games because your goaltender is the one locked in.
You can pretty easily argue the Avs were on both ends of that spectrum this week. Just three days after Jordan Binnington made 45 saves in a 3-2 Blues win, Pavel Francouz made 46 in Raleigh to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, well, also 3-2. This was Francouz’s second win of the season and, amusingly, the second time he beat the Hurricanes in the last week.
There’s really no way to sugarcoat this hockey game. Without the brilliance of Pavel Francouz, Colorado gets run out of the building tonight. The Hurricanes bullied the Avalanche all over the ice, outshooting, outhustling, and generally doing everything better than Colorado…except scoring.
And that’s the name of the game, right?
The fancy stats are a bloodbath, the kind we’ve seen the Avs become accustomed to laying on opposing teams in recent years. Rarely have we seen the Avs outshot and out possessed so badly. The numbers are downright ghastly. See for yourself:
At all situations? Carolina had the following advantages:
- 83-31 Corsi
- 48-15 Shots on goal
- 44 (!!)-13 scoring chances
- 17-8 high-danger chances
- 5.06-1.57 expected goals
Okay, AJ, but you always say you have to look at those numbers at even strength. Let’s do that! Carolina had the following advantages:
- 62-25 Corsi
- 38-12 Shots on goal
- 32-11 scoring chances
- 12-7 high-danger chances
- 2.85-1.28 expected goals
3-2 Colorado in overtime.
This was territorial dominance at its finest and it simply didn’t matter. While the ice was more one-sided in this game than Colorado’s loss to the Blues on Monday night, there were plenty of similarities.
The Blues had essentially no offense going for them, much like the Avs tonight, but they got goals on a breakaway and a power play chance.
Evan Rodrigues scored on Colorado’s first power play of the game on a broken play. Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen were both battling for the puck coming out of the corner in the offensive zone and it just sort of found Rodrigues, who spun and seemed to catch Canes goalie Antti Raanta off guard enough to beat him.
Colorado’s second goal came on a breakaway by Alex Newhook, who drove the center of the ice and was the recipient of a perfect outlet pass by Josh Manson. Newhook made a great move to his backhand and caught Raanta leaning and put it home. The Avs were up 2-1 despite being comically outplayed.
Hell, even Carolina’s game-tying goal was a bit of good fortune for them. Andreas Englund had a communication snafu with Francouz as Francouz had retreated behind his net to play the puck. Whatever did or did not get said, Englund trucked over Francouz, causing his goalie stick to slide away and putting Francouz at a disadvantage.
The clearing attempt from Francouz did not exit the zone and was shot back down low, where Englund had recovered just in time to accidentally kick the puck into the center of the ice where Martin Necas was waiting to pick up the rebound and deposit an easy one behind Francouz.
The comedy of errors from Englund would be his final shift of the game and draw Carolina level. Again drawing a comparison to Monday night’s game, there was a power play at the end of the third period with a chance to change the outcome on the line. Monday night, Colorado failed to score at the end of regulation on a six-on-three advantage to lose.
Tonight, it was Carolina who failed to score at the end of regulation on a power play to push them ahead and across the finish line for the night’s two points.
The game hit overtime, the Avs killed the remaining 10 seconds of Carolina’s carryover power play, and it was on.
It took a couple of shifts, but the unlikely trio of Devon Toews, J.T. Compher and Artturi Lehkonen combined to win the game for the Avalanche. A perfectly executed three-on-two on offense resulted in the first regular season overtime game-winning goal from Lehkonen. His fifth goal of the season gave the Avs the win and two points that absolutely were stolen.
Sometimes that’s just how things go.
- An eventful night for Newhook. He was lost in the shuffle on Carolina’s first goal by Sebastian Aho, but it was a blocked shot right off a faceoff and the scramble resulted in Aho getting a second look. Hard to solely blame Newhook there, but it happened. Then came his breakaway goal where he utilized his speed to pressure the Carolina defense. Good job from him and the finish was pure filth. Then he took the careless high-sticking penalty with just over two minutes remaining to put the Avs on the PK to finish regulation. The good/bad pendulum had some pretty serious swings there.
- Francouz is now up to a .925 save percentage on the season after back-to-back stellar performances against Carolina. Alexandar Georgiev is at a .924 on the season. For once, Colorado’s goaltending early in the season has been a major strength. It will be a challenge for it to continue humming along at the pace it has so far, but boy is it encouraging to see that while the skaters might have gotten a little weaker overall, the net might be a real strength this season.
- I’m tempted to write a separate Film Room just about this shift but oh my goodness J.T. Compher was awesome in overtime. He won the opening faceoff, which allowed the Avs to kill off the remainder of the Newhook penalty, then his next shift saw him do great work all throughout and ended in a primary assist on the game-winning goal. Just a great bit of work from Compher at the end. Here’s his final shift in its entirety.