December 12, 2015 Game 30
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
Like a discarded former lover, the Colorado Avalanche came into tonight's game against the Nashville Predators with something to prove. Fresh off of a 4-2 loss at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Avalanche sought to assert themselves against the Predators, a Central Division rival.
The Avalanche got off to a sizzling start, rushing out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of goals from Francois Beauchemin and Nick Holden, the former coming on the power-play. First period play continued at this same breakneck pace, the Avalanche and Predators trading chances, neither team willing to give an inch.
Unfortunately, Nashville cut Colorado's lead in half with a mere 7.7 seconds left in the period, as a Ryan Ellis shot from the point ricocheted off of Miikka Solomaki's skate in front of the Avalanche net, and snuck past Semyon Varlamov.
The Avalanche struggled to exit their own zone for the majority of the second period, with Dave Farrish's collapsing defensive scheme proving ineffective against the highly mobile Nashville defensive corps. The Avalanche quickly found themselves chasing the game and took three consecutive penalties in short order, but fortunately prevented the the Predators from scoring and seizing control of the game. In the end, the Avalanche only managed one shot on net during the second frame.
The Predators continued to apply pressure early in the third period, and tied the game on a Craig Smith blast. However, an Austin Watson tripping penalty disrupted the Predators' onslaught, providing the Avalanche with a power-play, the momentum, and eventually a Martinsen goal. The Avalanche never looked back and Varlamov managed to stifle all of the Predators' late attacks, preserving their 3-2 lead.
I couldn't find this listed anywhere, strangely enough, so I decided to award them myself.
"I think we have a couple rebounds, and then the puck just comes out in the air, and I just think 'Ah, what the hell, I just try to give it a shot'" - Andreas Martinsen, on his game-winning goal.
Colorado are 7 points out of a playoff spot following this victory, so not much has changed in the context of the Western Conference. However, a victory against the powerhouse Nashville Predators is promising nonetheless. Terrific to see Varlamov back on form.
Thoughts from Roy:
The Avalanche travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues tomorrow, December 13, in the second game of a three game Central Division road trip. The game starts at 4:00 MST.