March 18, 2016 Game 72
ScotiaBank Saddledome Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The Colorado Avalanche rolled into Calgary tonight to take on the Flames in the third game of their four game road trip through Western Canada. The Avs came in fresh off a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks two days ago and surely enjoyed watching the Minnesota Wild get rocked last night against the New Jersey Devils, giving Colorado the opportunity to move ahead by three points in the standings.
Early on in the game it looked like the Avalanche would have one of their classic lazy games where the simply failed to show up as a lethargic first ten minutes gave way to a Calgary 1-0 lead as Matt Stajan deflected a puck off his skate and into the net. The goal would be reviewed but ultimately determined to be merely a deflection and not the kicked puck required to call it a no goal.
Colorado would respond late in the period off a ferocious rush from Nathan MacKinnon, whose shot on goal pulled Mark Giordano out of position and allowed Mikkel Boedker to corral the rebound and make an outstanding cross-ice pass through multiple Calgary defenders to Erik Johnson, who had an empty net and capitalized on the opportunity to pull the Avs even 1-1 heading into the first intermission.
The Avalanche would receive a power play about five minutes into the second period and against the league's worst penalty-killing unit was looking to do some damage but instead lived out a nightmare as Calgary would get short-handed goals 30 seconds apart from Mark Giordano and former Av Freddie Hamilton to change the dynamics of the game and make it 3-1.
A shell-shocked Avalanche team would take a few minutes to recover but Tyson Barrie would stop the bleeding with a shot that found its way past Joni Ortio to make it 3-2 going into the second intermission.
Despite their recent third period woes, the Avs came out firing on all cylinders and controlled the pace of play throughout the third period, eventually tying the game when Carl Soderberg banged home a puck in a mad scramble in front of the net that featured at least six players and a flailing goaltender. Despite a tense final few minutes, the Avalanche and Flames would push the game into overtime.
A spirited overtime dominated by Calgary would see the Avalanche lean on Semyon Varlamov before heading to the shootout where Varlamov would again come up huge, allowing zero goals. Boedker would score the only goal in the shootout in a move that Ortio will not be putting on his career highlight reel.
Despite the win, the Avalanche saw injuries to Eric Gelinas, an elbow injury that will keep him out indefinitely, and Nathan MacKinnon, who suffered a knee injury that will be re-evaluated tomorrow. Matt Duchene missed the game with a knee injury of his own that will keep him out 7-10 days and Gabriel Landeskog missed the game serving the final game of his suspension.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Boedker's shootout goal was a thing of beauty and would hold up for the Avalanche to give them the much-needed second point.
Soderberg's game-tying goal, obviously.
BY THE NUMBERS
The win moves Colorado ahead of Minnesota by three points and once again has one more game played than the Wild but still holds the first tiebreaker. In a long shot, the Avalanche are still seven points behind the Predators for the other Wild Card spot but the two teams play each other twice in the next two weeks so that gap could close very quickly.
The Avalanche finish their Western Canada road trip on Sunday, March 20 at the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm MST.