Avs-Lightning Grades – Chaos at The Can

In a wild game, the Colorado Avalanche fell 6-5 to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

How did each player perform in a barn-burner in downtown Denver? Let's find out!

Sven Andrighetto (C) - He was okay tonight, making some solid small plays along the way. He's an important part of the secondary scoring the Avs so badly need so he needs to start finding his way back to the score sheet. His process was solid tonight.

Mark Barberio (C+) - A steady, quiet game from No. 44. He wasn't great tonight but results were mostly positive with him on the ice. For a game filled with so many fireworks, it's kind of amazing anyone slipped up the radar as much as he did.

Tyson Barrie (A) - Stepped up with three assists in the third period and chewed up some big minutes as he helped replace Johnson after his game misconduct. He continues to produce points and tonight looked a whole lot more like the Barrie we're accustomed to seeing.

Jonathan Bernier (F) - He gave up a breakaway goal to Nikita Kucherov, who might be on his way to the Hart Trophy this year, and multiple goals were awkward situations or a bounce off an Avs player. Doesn't matter. His offense produced five goals for him against the best team in the NHL and he couldn't get them the win. Fail.

Blake Comeau (F) - No way it's his fault Bednar overuses his line but he got beat badly twice, first by Hedman then by Gourde as Tampa Bay built their 4-0 lead in the second period. Can't be that bad defensively.

J.T. Compher (C) - He was okay tonight. One of the guys who didn't jump off the ice in a good or bad way. He made a great play defensively early in the game to wreck a Tampa Bay scoring chance. Still not finishing the chances he's getting. His improved faceoff acumen is becoming a key for the Avalanche in late-game situations.

Samuel Girard (B-) - After his last outing, this was a good response. You'd love to see him get on the scoresheet but his active feet with the puck drew multiple penalties, two in the third that resulted in goals and helped bring Colorado back into the game. He did well with the puck and had a strong defensive effort.

Erik Johnson (D) - In the past, EJ has let his emotions get the best of him when things go south and tonight that sure seemed to be the case again. After the egregious no call on Hedman's slash on MacKinnon, EJ took a hearty chop on Namestnikov before pushing him in the back, resulting in a five-minute major for boarding and his ejection. Colorado's top D is too important to let that happen, even if I thought the ejection was over the top.

Tyson Jost (B) - Loved his game early. He was flying around and creating every time he was on the ice. He didn't get on the scoresheet but he's really settling in and showing why the team is so high on him.

Gabriel Landeskog (A+) - This is the kind of game you reserve the A grades for. He started off slowly and looked like he was on his way to a long night but he finished with five points and his second hat trick of the season. Hell, he even accidentally scored the game-winner for Tampa Bay he was so in the zone here.

Anton Lindholm (D) - Losing Nikita Kucherov at four on four and letting him get that kind of separation is the kind of mistake that should get you stapled to the bench for a week. It's inexcusable defense and despite strong possession numbers, that's exactly the kind of mistake that loses you games. Bad, bad, bad.

Nathan MacKinnon (A) - I wanted to give MacKinnon an A+ as well but given Landeskog's five-point night I didn't think that was quite fair. No. 29 continued his destruction of the NHL. He broke even against TB's top pairing but beat up Anton Stralman when they were matched up. Got the best of the head-to-head matchup against TB's top line, as well. He's unstoppable right now.

Patrik Nemeth (C+) - He's still playing a little much for my tastes (his TOI tonight probably is the right amount) but he did well in all three phases tonight. His solid breakout helped lead to Colorado's fifth goal. He continues to be a key cog in the much-improved penalty kill.

Matt Nieto (D+) - He had an awesome move behind the net in the first period and nearly beat Peter Budaj for a Gaudreau-ian goal but Budaj got the big pad out there. He got crushed at even strength and moved around in the lineup a bit as Bednar seems to be detaching a bit from that set-and-forget trio.

Mikko Rantanen (B) - He was a bit of a ghost compared to his two linemates who popped off for huge nights. He had an assist and four shots on goal of his own so it wasn't like he was bad, just that he suffers a bit in comparison. He was good tonight. Would like to see him finish on those one-timers from the half-wall on the power play but it was great to see him pull the trigger after a couple games of hesitance.

Carl Soderberg (C) - His line wasn't great tonight and he didn't contribute a whole lot of offense despite being on the ice for 2:33 of power play time. He was also on the ice in the six on five situation at the end of the game but they came up just short. Were it not for some empty net points, he would be on a lengthy offensive drought. Hard to decipher if his offense is suffering because of his role or because he's just not playing well but either way he needs to step it up. 

Colin Wilson (C) - He was out there for some interesting chances for and against but couldn't get any offense going. He continues to be solid at what he does well, which is work along the boards, but his puck skills are iffy.

Nikita Zadorov (B-) - I really loved his game tonight. In Johnson's absence, Bednar turned to his hulking Russian blue line enforcer and the big man responded. He was solid in his own zone even though he got beat up at even strength a bit. Colorado's fifth goal should go to Zadorov if the league takes a longer look at it. Either way, Z had a two-point night and he's on his way to his best NHL season.

Nail Yakupov (B+) - His return to the lineup was an adventurous one. The puck went the correct direction almost the entire time he was on the ice as there were multiple scoring chances involving him and he recorded an assist on Landeskog's first goal. In just over 11 minutes, he took seven shots. That's who he needs to be in this lineup.

The Avalanche return to the ice on Monday night as they take on the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

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