After finishing with a successful 3-0-1 record in the prior week, the Colorado Avalanche were looking to start off this week with the same type of positivity. Their opponent however, was no easy customer to say the least. Before the game, the Las Vegas Golden Knights had gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and were one of the hottest teams in the league according to Hockey Reference.
Despite this, the Avalanche did not let this fact intimidate them as the team went on to beat the Golden Knights by a final score of 4-3 on Wednesday night in Denver. The Avalanche managed to gain an early lead and then maintain that lead for the rest of the contest in order to earn themselves another two points in the standings.
The scoring began a little over five and a half minutes into the game. Forward Tyson Jost dished a pass from behind the net into the high slot area where left-winger Matt Calvert was left all alone. The 29-year-old then fired the puck high stick side past goaltender Malcolm Subban to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later, the Avalanche found themselves on the power play after forward Paul Stastny was penalized for high sticking defenseman Samuel Girard. With less than 20 seconds left in the man advantage, forward Nathan MacKinnon spun away from forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and then rifled a wrist shot top shelf glove side on Subban to put his team up by a pair.
The Avalanche continued to pad their lead in the second stanza. A little over seven minutes into the frame, defenseman Tyson Barrie launched a wrist shot from about 70 feet away and through everybody including Subban to increase the Avalanche’s lead to 3-0. In addition, the tally gives the 27-year-old his seventy-third goal of his career which is the most by any Avalanche defenseman according to the Colorado Avalanche website.
However, the Golden Knights would not let the 3-0 hole deflate their spirits. With a little more than nine minutes left in the period, Stastny wrapped the puck around from behind the net and slid it past the right skate of goaltender Philipp Grubauer to put his team on the scoreboard.
Less than four minutes later, the Golden Knights would cut the Avalanche’s lead to merely one goal. After Grubauer saved a shot from the point by forward Jonathan Marchessault, the rebound bounced right to forward William Karlsson who then passed the puck to teammate Reilly Smith. The 27-year-old then deposited the puck into a wide open net to put the score at 3-2.
The next goal would be a huge deciding factor of the game and fortunately for the Avalanche, it was them would score it. After receiving a cross ice pass from defenseman Nikita Zadorov, left-winger Gabriel Bourque fired a sizzling wrist shot stick side past Subban to give the Avalanche back their two-goal lead.
During the third and final frame, the Golden Knights would make things interesting with less than three and half minutes left in the game. After a goal-mouth scramble, right-winger Alex Tuch was able to tuck the puck past Grubauer to put the score at 4-3.
Despite the Golden Knights registering nearly 10 shots on net in the final three minutes of the contest, Grubauer stood his ground and the Avalanche were able to escape with the win.
The victory improves the Avalanche’s record to 35-29-13 and their point total to 83. They are now two points ahead of the Arizona Coyotes who have 81 points and a 37-33-7 record and four points ahead of the Minnesota Wild who have 79 points and a 35-33-9 record. The Avalanche currently occupy the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
The next game will arguably be the most important game for the Avalanche this season as they are at home to host the Coyotes on Friday night. A victory would give the Avalanche a four-point cushion over the Coyotes with just four games remaining in the regular season. However, a loss would allow the Coyotes to tie them in points.
The Avalanche have played the Coyotes twice before this year. The first meeting ended in a 5-1 victory while the second game concluded in a 6-4 loss.