Avalanche bounce back with 5-2 victory in chippy game against Coyotes

Mar 10, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier (45) makes a save on a shot from Arizona Coyotes center Brad Richardson (15) as defenseman Patrik Nemeth (12) defends against center Nick Cousins (25) in the first period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Avs are a different team at home, and it’s keeping them in the playoff race.

The Avalanche came out hot Sunday afternoon with three goals in the first five minutes, on their way to a 5-2 route of the Arizona Coyotes. The win would bring the Avs home record to 14-1-1 in their last 16 games, a stark contrast to their struggles on the road.

If you like goal scoring, the first five minutes of this game were for you. The Avs came out strong, as just 1:45 in Blake Comeau found himself entering the zone all alone off a great feed from Carl Soderberg and gave the Avs an early lead. Just 29 seconds later, Arizona’s Christian Dvorak would deflect a puck past Jonathan Bernier to tie it up at one, but that wouldn’t last long. Just 27 seconds later, Tyson Barrie would float a puck in from the point to give the Avs the lead, and Carl Soderberg would score a flukey goal just a few minutes later to put the Avs up by two, which they would keep heading into the intermission.

For Barrie, he’s now up to 46 points in just 54 games, but he’s embracing the opportunity to show he’s more than just a power play specialist with Erik Johnson out.

“Obviously, my minutes have gone up with him being out,” Barrie added postgame. “It was a good opportunity for me to show that I’m not just a power-play guy and not just a one-dimensional player.”

The goal scoring wasn’t the only excitement from the first. Mikko Rantanen would take a big hit cutting across the middle by Jordan Martinook late in the period, and Nathan MacKinnon was not happy. He quickly dropped the gloves with Martinook, making it the second time this season the Avs superstar has fought a member of the Coyotes. He would get an extra two minutes for roughing, but the Avs would kill the penalty off relatively easily.

The second period was not nearly as exciting, and the Avs wasted a chance to put the Coyotes away with some early zone time and an early power play. With a little under five minutes to go in the period, the Coyotes would bring the score within one as a few turnovers from Duncan Siemens led to some extended zone time for Arizona. Richard Panik found himself all alone in front for an easy goal, making it a 3-2 game. The Avs would survive a late Arizona power play to take their lead into the dressing room ahead of the third period.

The killer instinct the Avs lacked in the second period was alive and well in the third. After a too-many-men penalty by Arizona, Tyson Jost batted a puck out of mid-air and into the Coyotes net to extend the lead. Soon after, Mikko Rantanen would roof a puck short side and the blow out was on, but the fireworks were just beginning.

With about six minutes left in the game, Sven Andrighetto and Oliver Ekman-Larsson got into it in the Coyotes end behind the play. Ekman-Larsson would break his stick over Andrighetto, causing the Avs forward to shove him back in the face. All the players would square up from there, with Nikita Zadorov tackling down Brandon Perlini, marking the 4th player of the period that Zadorov had taken out. Andrighetto would get a huge ovation from the crowd, and the coach is happy to have him back in the lineup.

“He brings a number of things,” Bednar added after the game. “I like his speed, I like his ability to read the play. Just another guy who can make plays for us.”

The Avs now have to hit the road for some very important games, starting Tuesday when they head to Minnesota to take on the Wild.

Five Observations

  • Not to be lost in everything was Jonathan Bernier leaving the game halfway through the third period. Coach Bednar said he took a shot to the head in the second and had a stiff neck, and didn’t know much beyond that. Semyon Varlamov has been playing every game lately for the Avs, so a loss of Bernier may put more strain on their starting goaltender.
  • David Warsofsky got called up and found his way into the lineup, even picking up an assist late. The coaches appear to like him and he adds something different to the third pairing with a little bit of skill.
  • Duncan Siemens really struggled all night. He had some turnovers right before Arizona got their second goal of the game, and a mistake in the third led to a 2-on-1 against. He didn’t see the ice much after that until the game was almost over.
  • Nathan MacKinnon is now up to a ridiculous 59 points in 32 home games.
  • Mikko Rantanen is now up to 69 points on the year. The Avs have the opportunity to talk contract extension with him this summer, and may want to lock him up long term before he really blows up.