The Colorado Avalanche walked into tonight's home contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs riding a five-game winning streak and sporting a wonderful 8-2-0 record in the month of December. That momentum would carry over to the beginning of the game as the Avalanche thoroughly dominated the early stages of the first period, highlighted by a beautiful cycle play that led to Jack Skille scoring his fourth goal of the season to make it 1-0 just 2:27 into the game.
The lethargic Colorado power play would sap the momentum from the Avalanche as they would get nothing going on their one opportunity halfway through the period and it would prove to be the turning point of the first as Colorado would take a penalty of their own on a dubious tripping call against Francois Beauchemin. Toronto would continue their power play dominance over Colorado by evening the game on at the 13:34 mark of the first on a goal by Leo Komarov.
Blake Comeau's hooking penalty minutes later would put Toronto back on the power play and yet again the Maple Leafs would make the Avalanche pay as a beautiful pass from Komarov to a wide open Joffrey Lupul would put Toronto ahead 2-1, moving the Maple Leafs to an absurd 6-for-7 success rate on the power play this season against Colorado. The 2-1 lead would hold going into the first intermission.
The Avalanche would come out roaring in the second period and tie the game just 1:07 into the frame on a beautiful passing play between Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, and John Mitchell that led to Mitchell's eighth goal of the season.
Another questionable call in the second period would put the Maple Leafs back on the power play. Without wasting any time, Komarov would net his second goal of the game just seconds into the power play to make Toronto 3-for-3 on the power play in the game and give them the 3-2 lead with just under eight minutes to play.
Colorado's power play would come to life on its own late in the second period as Erik Johnson would tie the game at 3-3 on a beautiful pass from Gabriel Landeskog.
Toronto would waste no time regaining the lead as Tyler Bozak put them ahead on a 2-on-2 rush with a tipped puck that trickled past Semyon Varlamov just 49 seconds into the period.
Bozak would make it 5-3 with 13:13 remaining in the game after a great defensive play led to a breakaway and he would slip it between Varlamov's pads for a back-breaking goal.
James van Riemsdyk would make it 6-3 at 10:40 of the third period on a deflection from Jake Gardiner and more or less seal the victory for Toronto. An empty-net goal by Tyler Bozak with just a few minutes remaining would give him the hat trick and push the game to 7-3.
Jack Skille would make it 7-4 on his second goal of the night with just over two minutes remaining.
Bozak's second goal in the third period would be the icing on the cake for the Maple Leafs.
The first of Bozak's three third-period goals would set the tone for the unraveling of the Avalanche in the third period.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"We didn't have our best effort. At the same time, we were tied going into the third at home. Those are games you have to learn how to win, when you aren't playing your best. This one stings." - Gabriel Landeskog
Colorado's loss leaves them five points out of a playoff spot heading into the holiday break but still ahead of Winnipeg for sixth place in the Central Division.
The Avalanche are off the rest of the week for the Christmas break and will resume their schedule on Sunday December 27 against the Arizon Coyotes. Puck drop is at 6:00PM MST.