The Colorado Avalanche came out of the gate hot and never looked back, dominating the Washington Capitals on their way to a much-needed 6-2 victory.

How did each player perform?  Let’s find out…

Sven Andrighetto (B) – Quietly solid game from Andrighetto.  He was only out for one attempt toward the Avs’ net and he hit the post late in in the game.

Mark Barberio (C-) – Barberio wasn’t quite as bad as he was against Ottawa (hard to achieve that again), but he still didn’t look all there.  He was in no man’s land a bit on the Caps’ second goal.

Chris Bigras (C-) – Bigras plays at such a high speed, but kind of looks jittery and afraid of contact when he goes back to get the puck.  He turned it over a few times and his pair with Mironov really struggled most of the night.

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Blake Comeau (C-) – Not Comeau’s best game overall, and even though the penalty in the first wasn’t a great one, it’s one you’ll take from him because he needs to be engaged physically.

J.T. Compher (C+) – The offense just isn’t there right now for Compher, but he’s sure not afraid to put his body in front of shots, even after his broken thumb.  Had at least three big blocks tonight.

Samuel Girard (A) – That zone entry on the MacKinnon goal was a thing of beauty.  He certainly doesn’t lack confidence with the puck.  Getting a Sandis Ozolinsh vibe with him.

Erik Johnson (A) – The Caps looked weak all night, but EJ was a monster all night.  He played over 10 minutes in the first and if the game was close, certainly would have cracked 30.

Vladislav Kamenev (INC) – Really unfortunate for him to get hurt in his first game with the team.  Heal up.

Alexander Kerfoot (B) – Had a beautiful give-and-go with Wilson late in the game that almost led to a goal.  He took a beating all night as it seems the Caps focused on him physically.

Gabriel Landeskog (A+) – First career hat trick for the Captain, and he set the tone right off the bat with a goal 17 seconds in.  He looks rejuvenated offensively on the top line.

Nathan MacKinnon (A+) – Five points and he couldn’t even get the first star because his linemate stole the show.  The game appears to have slowed down a bit for him.

Andrei Mironov (C-) – Miro will do one good thing, followed by a weird mistake.  He made a great defensive play in the third, only to literally give the puck right back to the guy a second later.  Really hard to get a read on him but I do see some small improvement in him.

Matt Nieto (C) – Shame on him for doing absolutely nothing wrong on the goal that was taken away.

Mikko Rantanen (A+) – The forecheck on the Wilson goal was perfection, and what he’s very capable of doing.  He’s quietly up to a point per game.

Carl Soderberg (B) – Great pass on the Rantanen goal, and the Barrie injury gave him a shot on the top power-play unit.  He did not disappoint.

Semyon Varlamov (B+) – He had Ovechkin’s number all night, reading the play properly and getting square to the puck whenever the sniper got a chance.  A strong bounce-back game from him to keep the goals-against limited.

Colin Wilson (B+) – Easily his best game in an Avs uniform.  Great work in front on the goal, and he was robbed of an assist on a fantastic forecheck by the very questionable decision by the NHL to take away the Avs goal.

Nail Yakupov (B) – It isn’t often that you see an NHL player go an entire game without being on the ice for an even-strength shot against.  Yak did that tonight.  He didn’t have an impact on the scoresheet but he was moving his feet through the neutral zone.

Nikita Zadorov (B-) – Very weird game to grade him on.  When he was on the ice, he was really good, and the Avs were good with him out there.  You don’t love the penalties, but at least they’re aggressive penalties, and he needs to be physical and mean.  The goal being taken away from him was an awful call.  You can tell the coaching staff liked his game, because even though he was in the box a lot, he finished third on D in ice time.

The Avalanche hit the road to take on the Nashville Predators on Saturday.  The game starts at 6 PM MST.

Evan Rawal

An Avs season ticket holder since 2011, Evan has been watching and playing the game for over 20 years, coming up through the Colorado Youth Hockey system through AAA hockey and then juniors. Prior to joining BSN, he wrote for Sports303. He covers the Avs and grades the players after each game.

  • Max Power

    freakin BS!!!!!! that Zads goal was taken away. that would have been so amazing for his already fractured confidence to come in here, beat some guys up and play the closest I’ve seen to how he played last year, and get a goal on top of it to stick it to the coaching staff for scratching him. just… infuriating to witness the ineptitude w the nhl and this challenge crap. its getting way outta hand. I think it needs to shift to penalties all around for challenges that dont go your way. that way you have to be completely sure what you’re challenging. good solid grading all round Evan ♥

    • AvsFinn

      Totally agree that there should be a penalty if the challenge is not successful. The Preds wouldn’t have challenge this one. They bought a cheap lottery ticket and scored a jackpot.

  • david 1.982k

    Sakic A+ for getting Girard. Zadorov’s only negatives were the penalties, I thought he was outstanding, otherwise. Nice to see two possible anchors on the left side of the D emerge. Also good to see Langeskog’s hardwork getting rewarded, he absolutely earned the hat trick. Very fun game.

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    I was at the game. No offense meant, but I would give this report card a B- or C+. I think it’s too influenced by earlier ‘fashionable’ trends of opinion; need to have fresh eyes every new game. My takes: Mironov was better than C-, even Barberio was slightly better, Johnson B+, Nieto B-, Zadorov B to B+, Rantanen a tad high, but only a tad, so who cares? (strong game). Bigras and Compher were the Avs struggling most to find their niches. But next game could be different. We’ll see. #KeepTheTrajectoryGoing,Boys

    • VK

      I also thought Mironov looked better than C-. 4 hits, 6 blocked shots, maybe few minor mistakes, but overall did what he was supposed to do.

      • Av-a-dabba-doo

        @ VK: Yeah, I agree, and what I don’t like is when a player does have a poor game or two and that ‘rep’ follows them unduly in their better efforts afterward. He’s young, shows some nice movement, and bodied up athletically to defend against a full-speed rush coming against him, effectively stalling the threat. Sure, he’s going to make mistakes and needs to learn/improve. But C-? Tough.

  • In all honesty, I though calling off the goal was the right decision.

    Hear me out:
    If you watch the play, Nieto skates into the blue ice and the goalie reaches out his glove to try to ward him off. The goalie then moves to his right, and the puck goes in to his left. It looked to me like the reason he moved to his right wasn’t just to find the puck but to avoid contact with Nieto. Had Nieto not been in the crease, the goalie might never have moved to the right and the goal might never have been scored. That being the case, I think it’s fair to disallow the goal because Nieto being in the crease appears to have influenced the goalie’s movements in a way that directly led to a goal.

    In terms of the grades, I pretty much agree. It’s a shame that Compher’s offense seems to have dried up, but hey at least he’s getting in front of pucks – it’s better than nothing.

    I strongly disagree on Yakupov though. Yeah he looked good in the neutral zone, but he was absolutely awful with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone – losing it pretty much every time he touched it. On the play he took the penalty that led to a Washington goal he has the puck on a 3-on-2 and ended up losing it without creating anything close to a scoring chance. Bednar needs to sit him down and tell him he needs to stop trying to beat defensemen and either shoot it or pass it to an open guy. He’s a pure shooter, not a puck handler.

    • rafterman191

      Easy to say if you put it into the context of the rules, but if you actually measure it against how these are called, it was a lousy, lousy reversal.

      • I care more about whether the call was right than whether previous calls have been wrong when determining if *this* particular case should have been reversed.

    • WyoX

      You are right Mark T. Rule 69.3 states “If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.” As such, it doesn’t matter that the goalie was the one that initiated the contact. Nieto was in the crease and did not allow the goalie to move to make the save. Accidental or not.

    • Jimbotronn

      I thought it was a really bad call, but you’re right that the fact Nieto was in the crease seems to be overlooked by the people who are upset that he didn’t initiate the contact. As WyoX points out, contact within the crease does not need to be initiated by the attacking player for a goal to be disallowed. So while I didn’t like the call, it wasn’t some outrageous slap in the face by somebody in Toronto who doesn’t know the rules, it was actually supported by the rulebook and from the goalie’s perspective was probably the right call. But that said, it’s just about the weakest overturned call on a goalie interference I’ve seen yet, and I’m glad the game didn’t hinge on it.

      • It sucks because it appears weak, but if you changed the rules so that something like that isn’t interference, some guys would probably go into the crease to intentionally prevent the goalie from shifting in that direction.

        • Jimbotronn

          Agreed, and I don’t have a problem with the rule at all. But I thought it was a weak/bad call because the way I saw it, the goalie was moving to his right voluntarily as he tracked the puck as they moved it over to Zadorov, not because Nieto forced him out of the spot he wanted to be. I think the goalie overplayed the pass a little bit and was trying to pick it up on the wrong side of the screen in front of him, and by the time he realized he had overplayed it and needed to shift back to his left, the shot was already on its way and Nieto was out of the crease anyway. I can see the argument that Nieto made him move farther to his right than he may have wanted, but I don’t buy it and was very surprised that Toronto did.

          • I think the issue is there’s no way to no how voluntary his move to the right was. Maybe he was tracking the puck, maybe he was avoiding Neito, maybe it was both. As long as that second option exists though I think you have to wave off the goal.

  • rafterman191

    How does Rantanen get an A+ and Soderberg a B? Rantanen was pretty shaky for a period and thrived because his line was thriving. For the role they are assigned to, Soderberg had a better all around game.

    • Agreed. Thinking about it Soderberg should have been at least an A. That’s about as good as I expect Soderberg to play given his role.