Colorado Avalanche: The Beauty of Erik Johnson’s OT Goal

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 02: Erik Johnson
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 02: Erik Johnson /

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Winnipeg Jets thanks to a beautiful breakaway goal by defenseman Erik Johnson.

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Winnipeg Jets in what ended up being a more exciting game than it really needed to be. The Avalanche were leading 2-0 going into the third, but Blake Wheeler’s two goals tied the game up.

The overtime was thrilling — no one likes overtime hockey because it’s so hard on our hearts, but we love it because it’s so exciting! There was a lot of back and forth action, including a moment when big Dustin Byfuglien looked like he was going to steamroll over Jonathan Bernier to score the overtime goal:

That looked sure to be the game-winner, but Bernier made the save.

Take note of defenseman Erik Johnson. He started out on his knee about two strides behind Byfuglien when Big Buck took off. Johnson got right back onto his skates and came within a stick’s length of catching Byfuglien — Johnson is fast.

Well, that speed came into handy a couple minutes later. It looked so sure the game was going to go into the shootout. There were fewer than 15 seconds left in the overtime period.

Then Mikko Rantanen gains possession of the puck. He’s able to push it ahead to Johnson, who has taken off again. Watch that powerful stride and he skates up the ice toward the goal:

One of my favorite hockey things is Erik Johnson going coast to coast. This isn’t that, but EJ on a breakaway still shows you why he’s earned the nickname “Condor.”

In fact, Erik Johnson on a breakaway isn’t something you see too terribly often. Even the man himself remarked on that fact:

Even beyond the power of Johnson’s skating, what’s noteworthy is how good his shot is. He just fires that rocket high over goalie Connor Hellebuyck’s blocker.

According to Johnson’s post-game interview, that was his intent:

"“I mean, he is one of the better goalies in the league. I was just trying to get a little elevation on it and put it blocker. We have a scouting sheet before the game that says where most of his goals go in, the percentage. High blocker is one of those places, and I think I hit his pad–it went north and up into the top of the net. It felt good to get the two points under the circumstances of how they tied it.”"

After the game, Mark Rycroft joked that no way Johnson thought it through — more likely he just saw an opening and hockey instincts took over. Nonetheless, it’s one fine shot.

That goal is Johnson’s third game winner of the season. That matches his best for game winning goals in a season. It’s also good for third among all NHL defensemen for game winners.

Next: Johnson Aims to be Mentor

Johnson has had to pick up a little slack now that Tyson Barrie is out with a hand injury. And it’s not like Johnson was slacking to begin with. He was already leading the team in ice time and is in the top 8 for players across the NHL in ice time. He’s now quarterbacking the first power play as well as leading the first penalty kill unit.

The Colorado Avalanche face the Columbus Blue Jackets next in the fifth of their season-high six-game home stand.