The Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks are two not very good teams who find themselves in vastly different situations in the standings. Colorado cratered after a middling start and the Canucks continue to be an effective roller coaster. Tonight, the traits of both teams were on full display.
Vancouver came out guns blazing, firing puck after puck at Colorado's netminder Calvin Pickard to the tune of a 20-shot first period. While Colorado responded with just nine of their own, one of Vancouver's actually went in and it turns out those are the shots that matter most when the night ends. Sven Baertschi, quickly becoming an Avs killer, found a loose puck in front of Pickard and backhanded it top shelf for the first period's only goal.
The second period appeared to be much of the same but eventually, the Avalanche found their legs and put up a reasonable fight. It was quickly undone when Nikita Zadorov fanned on a pass from behind his own net and Markus Granlund swooped in like the Hamburglar, stole the puck and slid it behind a slow-to-react Pickard for the 2-0 lead just seven minutes in.
The Avs responded, however, as they finally took advantage of leaky goaltending from Vancouver's Jacob Markstrom, who struggled to clean stop pucks all evening. Nathan MacKinnon played the kind of low-high style head coach Jared Bednar prefers and got the puck to Nikita Zadorov at the point, who fired a puck Markstrom initially seemed to stop but it trickled through him and Mikko Rantanen potted tapped it into the open net to wake the Pepsi Center and bring it to 2-1.
A terrible third-period club thus far, Colorado actually responded to the adversity well for once and jumped all over Vancouver early, eventually resulting in a goal from forward Matt Nieto, his second since being claimed off waivers from the San Jose Sharks. The goal came just 6:18 in and changed the complexion of the game as each team shifted into attack mode in search of the two points.
The Canucks' attack mode was more effective on this night, however, and another Sven Baertschi goal, this time on a power play at 11:46, would end up being the difference in the game and his second tally went down as the game-winning goal.
1. Sven Baertschi
2. Calvin Pickard
3. Matt Nieto
PLAY OF THE GAME/TURNING POINT
Baertschi's second goal effectively sealed the deal for the Canucks as the Avalanche have yet to mount a real third-period comeback this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Tonight's game was the last one before the All-Star break. The Avalanche will be back in action after the weekend break.