The Colorado Avalanche took the foot off the gas halfway through the second period. The only reason they earned a point was goal tending.
The Colorado Avalanche players not named Semyon Varlamov need to buy the one who is a very fancy steak dinner. With caviar and imported vodka, if that’s what the Russian netminder wants. Varlamov is the only reason the Avalanche escaped with a point from the Calgary Flames game.
And it shouldn’t have been that way. The team came out strong, with star center Nathan MacKinnon scoring a goal in the first 11 seconds of the game. That extends his goal streak to five games, which ties him with Mats Sundin for franchise record to start a season.
Stolid center J.T. Compher also scored a goal in the first period, at the 2:40 mark. Aaaaand, that was it for Colorado Avalanche players and scoring. They had some good chances, and at one point they had double the shots of Calgary, but that was it.
The Flames scored three unanswered goals, including one in the last couple minutes of the game and one 46 seconds into overtime to win the game. Colorado was lucky they held on long enough to earn that point.
Let’s look at the key to the game briefly, and then we’ll indulge in a little Varlamov appreciation.
A Tale of Special Teams
More from Analysis
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- What does Ross Colton bring to the Colorado Avalanche?
- Colorado Avalanche in-depth look at Jonathan Drouin
- Colorado Avalanche without Gabriel Landeskog, will another wear the “C”?
- Avalanche vs. Kraken prediction and odds for NHL playoffs Game 3
Special teams weren’t a big factor here. Neither team scored on the power play. However, there’s no question that penalties killed the momentum for the Colorado Avalanche. They took penalties at the wrong time in both the second and third periods.
Granted, Calgary got a little chippy, and Nikita Zadorov taking both Sam Bennet and Matthew Tkachuk out of commission in the third was good, Still there were a couple bad penalties that just took the steam out of the Avs.
As noted above, Nathan MacKinnon continued his goal-scoring streak. He now has six goals and one assist in five games.
Mikko Rantanen also extended his points streak. He earned an assist on MacKinnon’s goal, so he now has a point in every game this season — eight total (1 goal, 7 assists.)
While not exactly a streak, Compher has a point in four of the five games he’s played in. Three of them are goals.
Inaugural Colorado Girls Hockey Night
I didn’t get to watch all the festivities. However, It sounds like the inaugural Colorado Girls’ Hockey Night was a success. Girls have been making big strides in the world of hockey.
As part of the Girls’ Night, Avalanche rinkside reporter Lauren Gardner served as game announcer. She did a great job. She kept the calls pretty simple, but she did put some of her own flair to the event. I just wish there had been more Avs goals for her to call.
Appreciating Semyon Varlamov
The Colorado Avalanche just let the foot off the gas. When they went up 2-0 so quickly, the thought flashed through my mind “Most dangerous lead in hockey — two-goal lead.” Teams have a tendency to sit back on their heels.
That’s exactly what the Avs did. They were flat and lusterless for the majority of the second half. The shot totals crept up, and Varlamov shouldered more and more of the load.
In the end, he was left to face 41 shots. He made 38 saves, including some big game-savers. Here are a couple of the noteworthy examples:
There were times that the defense looked helpful, even in the second half of the game. Sometimes they were in position to clear the puck after a rebound. But there’s no question that Varlamov saved the game and earned them that point. Not a one of the goals he let in was soft.
The Colorado Avalanche have two days of no games to shake this one off before heading to New York to face the Rangers. I expect they’ll practice at least one if not both days, and I suspect both backchecking and forechecking will be areas of focus.