Avalanche start slow but finish strong against Leafs


Game Summary

The Colorado Avalanche did not have a good first period to start their first matchup of this season against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Avalanche made up for that with a strong second period in which they scored two unanswered goals. Their third period continued the push to dominate the game and take back control, ending with another two goals.

The Avalanche top line dominated the game, especially in the second period. With a further power play goal, Colorado continued to add points to their tally. Jack Johnson has a lower-body Injury (LBI) so fans will have to wait to learn how long he will be out of the lineup.

In – Josh Manson #42

Out – Valeri Nichushkin #13 and still no sign of Miles Wood

First Period

At the end of the first period, with the score Avalanche–0 and Toronto–3, there weren’t many positives to talk about. Valeri Nichushkin’s net front presence was missed as he was absent from the lineup. Josh Manson, back in with his strong defensive habits, was having a positive impact. The score could well have been Toronto Maple Leafs with five goals had Alexandar Georgiev not made several really sound saves.

The Avalanche started the game with strong forechecking, but they just couldn’t beat the strong Maple Leafs defense and goaltender Martin Jones. Midway through the first period, the Avalanche top line had a strong shift with play that showed their determination to win the puck, keep it and score. The problem was they didn’t score.

Logan O’Connor had several really strong chances, as we have seen from him over the past weeks. There is a reason he is playing on the 2nd line, and yes with Nichushkin out he was the obvious choice to be elevated.

Avalanche SOG 8  Maple Leafs SOG 14

In that period the Avalanche got out muscled and out shot.

Second Period

The Avalanche top line (Mikko Rantanen – Nathan MacKinnon – Jonathan Drouin) ramped up their intensity level in the second period. The result was two goals scored. Alexandar Georgiev looked strong in the net to shutout some very strong shots from the Maple Leafs scorers. It was the Avalanche’s commitment to level the score that had each of the lines performing and having more of the overall play during the period. The top line forced a 5 on 4, then 5 on 3 power play and whilst Jonathan Drouin scored during the first power play, the second provided no score. Ross Colton, Logan O’Connor and Drouin had several good scoring chances.

With Logan O’Connor called for a penalty, the concern was, would the one goal advantage for the Maple Leafs become two goals again? The Avs penalty kill stayed strong to shut down the Leafs and keep the score at 1–3. It was then Mikko Rantanen that put home the second goal for the Avalanche. Jonathan Drouin is showing the value of having him on the top line with MacKinnon and Rantanen by continuously offering scoring opportunities, or putting the puck in the net.

Avalanche SOG 20  Maple Leafs SOG 23

A much stronger period by the Avs in the 2nd.

Third Period

The Avalanche came out strongly in the third period, continuing their push from the second. With the Avs on the power play, it was Andrew Cogliano who tied the game. It was Cogliano’s first score in 23 games. He was due. The goal came from a great over the shoulder shot on the Leafs goalie, with a good screen in front of the net. Again, as has been clear in recent games, the Avalanches power play was strong. The power play put four shots on the net during their two minutes in the third period.

Colton tried twice to score the empty netter with less than a minute to go, and only scored on his second try. A great pass by Ryan Johansen set up the goal.

The Avalanche defensive play and Georgiev’s strength in net allow the home team, the Maple Leafs, to remain scoreless. The Avalanche’s four unanswered goals showed their focus on winning.

Part way through the third period, the news came through that Jack Johnson would not return. Jack Johnson hadn’t started the third period and reports state that he has a lower-body injury. We will have to wait to see how long that will keep him out of the game.

Avalanche SOG 33  Maple Leafs SOG 29

The Avalanche had a strong third period to finish out the game.

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