The Colorado Avalanche found a way to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday evening by a final score of 2-1 with Mikko Rantanen recording the first goal for the Avs and Nathan MacKinnon capping off the night with a shootout goal. The Maple Leafs have had a stellar season, winning 40 games. With the win, Colorado secured three points and are now four points from tying the Minnesota Wild for second place in the division.
Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev stopped 17 of 18 regulation shots on net for a save percentage of .944, while Maple Leafs’ goaltender Ilya Samsonov held 28 of 29 regulation shots for a save percentage of .966.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the Avalanche had the easiest remaining schedule of all NHL teams. That should mean that games should be a cakewalk, no? Unfortunately that’s just not how it is in sports, especially the NHL. Sometimes teams come out of their locker room more hungry than their opponent that day/night.
Over the last three games, the Avalanche have proven to be hungrier. Though they have only won by one point in two of those three games, a win is a win. The game prior to Wednesday’s was against the Montreal Canadiens, in which they pulled off an eight-goal performance on their way to a 8-4 victory.
There have been some real bright sides to this team this year, including Mikko Rantanen, who has been on a tear, recording 44 goals and 35 assists (71 points) this year while not missing a single game. The fact that Rantanen has been so healthy this year is truly remarkable considering the rash of injuries the team has gone through. I’m knocking on wood here.
Truthfully, it would be nice to see a newcomer in Lars Eller have more of an impact. Through eight games since getting traded to the Avalanche, Eller has zero goals and one assists on just ten shots. Though he’s not going to end up playing as much as guys like Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, it would be awesome to have him out shooting the puck.
This team cannot afford these low-scoring games anymore. There are only so many wildcard spots to claim and if they don’t start winning games by scoring three or four goals at minimum, they could find themselves on the outside looking in. With 16 games remaining, the Colorado Avalanche have some work to do.