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LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Colorado Avalanche continued their three-game road trip with a Thanksgiving eve stop in Los Angeles to take on the embattled Kings. Without their top two goaltenders, the Kings turned to youngster Cal Petersen for help in net as the Avalanche went back to longtime starter Semyon Varlamov following back-to-back Philipp Grubauer starts.
The Avalanche had a strong opener in a classic Kings-style low-event period as they scored two power-play goals and gave up a flukey one to take a 2-1 lead into the second period.
That was only the beginning of a long night for Los Angeles as Colorado stretched the lead to 4-1 on goals from MacKinnon and Nemeth. The last time Colorado had a 4-1 lead on the road, it turned into an epic meltdown in Calgary.
There was no repeat of that this time as they eventually opened up a 7-1 lead in the third period before the Kings got two late goals to feel less bad about themselves. Austin Wagner even scored his first NHL goal with under five minutes remaining. That’s nice for him.
More takeaways from the game:
- Colorado’s second PP unit has to be one of the better units in terms of rate of scoring in the league. They produce all kind of chances and Vladislav Kamenev scored after some great passing. Soderberg and Kerfoot had the assists. Tonight was Kamenev’s first career multi-point game.
- The Avalanche have faced quite a bit of adversity despite winning three of their last four games as they’ve had to come from behind in three of those games just to secure points. But Colorado responded in a different way as they watched their early lead disappear thanks to a weird bounce on Semyon Varlamov. They scored less than a minute later to restore the lead. The resiliency has been strong with this team lately.
- Colorado’s power play scored on its first three chances. The best part? Goals from Kamenev, Nathan MacKinnon and Colin Wilson. Secondary scoring, you say?
- The Alexander Kerfoot/Tyson Jost combination on the second line is straight humming right now. They have scored 12 combined points (five for Jost, seven for Kerfoot) in the six games since Jost’s return against Winnipeg.
- The Avalanche got zero goals from their defensemen through 12 games. Through 21 games, all seven defensemen who have suited up for Colorado have now scored at least one goal with Patrik Nemeth getting on the board tonight.
- This was exactly the kind of game the Avalanche have needed for a while. They’ve been playing a lot of high-stress games against all opponents. For them to beat down the team in last place is, believe it or not, a step forward. Their history of playing down to their opposition did not come into play at all tonight.
- Have to feel good for Nikita Zadorov getting a goal after taking two penalties earlier in the game. It’s been a rough ride for big Z lately but the goal was a thing of beauty and even if it was the sixth goal, it’s the kind of thing that can get a player who is so driven by confidence going the right direction.
- Matt Nieto snuck in an assist on a night where scoring was there for the taking. Colorado’s fourth line of Nieto/Kamenev/Andrighetto produced three points tonight. You’re not going to lose very many games when that kind of production is going your way.
- Some of the current goal paces for the Avalanche are interesting. Rantanen – 31 MacKinnon – 54 Landeskog – 50 Soderberg – 27 Wilson – 23
- Colorado’s response to the five-game losing streak that looked like it might submarine all of their early-season gains: 4-0-1 with three road wins. That’s how you respond to adversity.
- You have to love a guy like Matt Calvert taking a personal leave to be with his mother, coming back in time for the game, and then nabbing a goal along the way. A true heart and soul guy who deserves the best.
- Over the last five years, 62 of 80 teams who were in playoff spots on American Thanksgiving ultimately made the postseason. Last year’s Avalanche team bucked the trend and became one of the very few to make it despite being on the outside looking in at Thanksgiving last year. This year? Solidly in the first wild-card spot, four points ahead of the first team on the outside looking in (Vancouver) with fewer games played. Colorado is sitting pretty this time around.
- Goal differential is one of those statistics that give us an idea of the actual good teams in the league (there are always outliers, of course) and right now Colorado is fourth in the NHL at +16. They’ve combined a whole lot of goal scoring with pretty solid goal prevention.
“I liked their start to the game. I thought we played to our identity right away. Special teams ended up being a huge factor for us tonight. Our PP was really good again. Our PK really sharpened up on some of our details. We kind of slipped here lately, and our work ethic on it was real good. So, I felt like that was the difference.”
“To be honest with you, we talked about before the game how not to be caught up with where they’re at the in the standings because they’re a good team. You look at the lineup they have, obviously they have some injuries, especially on the goalies. But they’re still a really good hockey team. I just thought our special teams were real good. Our power plays were real sharp, and our PK did their job. So, to me I think that was the difference.”
“It brings a lot of confidence when you score that many goals. We just dominated pretty much the whole game. It gives you lots of confidence as a goalie.”
Willie Desjardins (LA head coach)
“Yeah, [special teams] have been a problem for us, the last probably three or four games for sure. I thought it was a big difference like they just scored on their power plays, so they got lots of momentum off of it and we didn’t score on ours. When it was 2-1, I thought we had a chance, but we didn’t capitalize. I thought they power play was better. I thought it was a lot better than it has been in the past. It’s pretty much always the same story. We lose the special teams battle and when you lose that you don’t win many games.”