On Thursday night, the Colorado Avalanche were handed a tough 4-0 shutout loss by their divisional rivals, the Dallas Stars. However, the Avalanche suffered an even greater loss that game than merely two points towards a playoff spot. In the midst of the match versus the Stars, Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog suffered an upper body injury. The next day, he was deemed to miss the next four to six weeks of play according to NHL Discussion.
Landeskog has been a huge offensive contributor for the Avalanche this season. The 26-year-old is third on the team in points with 69 in 68 games and second on the team in goals with 33. During the next game, if the Avalanche responded poorly to the loss of their captain. Their playoff hopes could’ve very well diminished right then and there.
Fortunately for Avalanche fans, the team responded with dominance and poise rather than depression and defeat. The Avalanche managed to kick off their four-game home stand with a 3-0 shutout against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon. In addition, the Avalanche overwhelmed the Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton with 43 shots on goal while at the same time, only allowed 18 shots to reach their goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
While zero scoring occurred in the first period, the second stanza began with a goal from forward Nathan MacKinnon a little over three minutes into the frame. Despite being cross checked from behind, the 23-year-old refused to lose control of the puck. After getting back to his feet, MacKinnon then dangled around rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin before firing the puck top shelf glove side over Hutton for his thirty-fifth goal of the season.
The third and final period featured a power play goal from right-winger Mikko Rantanen with a little less than 10 minutes left in the contest. The 22-year-old patiently out waited defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen before unloading a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle through both Ristolainen and Hutton to give his team the 2-0 lead. With the tally, Rantanen notched his first 30 goal season of his NHL career.
With a little over one minute left in the game, left-winger Gabriel Bourque fired the puck from 200 feet away into an empty net to seal the deal for the Avalanche.
The victory elevates the Avalanches record to 30-27-12 and increases their point total to 72. The team now sits just two points behind the Minnesota Wild who currently occupy the final wild card spot with 74 points and a 33-28-8 record.
The Avalanche will continue their home stand on Monday evening as they face off against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Avalanche managed to defeat the Hurricanes in their first meeting of the season by a score of 3-1 back in late October.