Following a poor showing against the Minnesota Wild at home, the Colorado Avalanche were out to prove that they had veteran goaltender Philipp Grubauer’s back who has played very well this season with minimal support from the offense. The team hit the road Friday for a mini west coast trip where they would face the Coyotes and Sharks. The Avs took game one Friday night 3-2 but it was a nail-biter towards the end with the Coyotes scoring twice in the final two minutes of the game. Let’s take a look at what happened in game two.
Hunter Miska gave Philipp Grubauer some much needed rest Friday night, but the Avs went right back to their number one goaltender Saturday night. We also learned that defenseman Cale Makar is day-to-day with an upper body injury so he would be replaced with Dan Reneouf. Matt Calvert was out again but this time Logan O’Connor would crack the lineup, along with Jacob MacDonald.
It was clear in the first period that the Coyotes had made some adjustments. They were getting pucks deep and creating a lot more chances early on. Nick Schmaltz seemed to pick up where he left off yesterday, trying to take pucks to the net and get in the grill of Avs’ defensemen. Bowen Byram also continued playing a physical game, laying a big hit on Clayton Keller.
But it was Nathan MacKinnon who broke the ice. The Avs centerman slipped through a check along the left boards and shot a laser past Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta top-shelf.
Try to check Nathan MacKinnon and he shall SCORE. pic.twitter.com/ESHrztBIXX
— Emily Wade (@Emily_Wade) February 28, 2021
The Coyotes kept it interesting when forward Clayton Keller redirected a shot from the point past Philipp Grubauer with a handful of minutes left in the second period. Although it seemed like momentum was going towards the Yotes, the Avs answered right back with a nice wrap-around goal from Jacob MacDonald who scored his first NHL goal with Colorado.
After the game, MacDonald said, “You have to savor these moments. For me proving myself isn’t going to happen in six games, or twenty games, or whatever. It’s going to be on consistency on a day-in, day-out basis. As long as I can do that, there’s ‘no proving myself in one game.’ It’s about proving myself on a nightly basis for me.”
— Altitude Sports Radio 92.5FM (@AltitudeSR) February 28, 2021
MacDonald’s go-ahead goal proved to be the first of many Avalanche goals in a much needed blowout game. Gabe Landeskog got things going in the third period with a net-front powerplay goal. The Avs seemed to not be able to get set up or move the puck around successfully in previous powerplays. It was also uncharacteristic for them to get a blue-collar, greasy goal like that.
The Avs would later add third period goals by Donskoi, Jost, and Bellemare which is great for Colorado’s scoring depth. If they can get production and start rolling all four lines, the Avs could hit their stride this season in March. The final score Saturday night was 6-2, giving Philipp Grubauer his 10th win of the season.
It’s also noteworthy, head coach Jared Bednar ruled out defenseman Cale Makar for the rest of the road trip as the Avs wait for more information from the medical staff on his day-to-day status.
The Avalanche wrap up the month of February with a record of 5-3 and will continue their short road trip on Monday & Wednesday in San Jose against the Sharks. Following that series, the Avs play 13 of 15 games at home at Ball Arena in Denver. If there’s any time to get on a hot streak, March is their time.