The Avalanche have seen better days. And oftentimes, those days didn’t involve NHL superstar Connor McDavid, because the Oilers’ captain was all over the scoresheet, scoring a hat trick and adding three assists in a 6-2 Edmonton victory over Colorado.
Colorado (11-6-2) was without its top two goaltenders, giving rookie netminder Adam Werner his first career NHL start after shutting out the Winnipeg Jets in relief on Tuesday. Werner stood no chance against two of the NHL’s top scorers, as McDavid and current scoring leader Leon Draisaitl combined for 11 points.
The scoring started just over a minute in as Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky scored off a feed from center Nazem Kadri. After the Oilers answered back to tie the game, they used a power play to get ahead before adding their third goal 28 seconds later. Edmonton would get its fourth before the break, as McDavid scored his second of the night to make 4-1 after 20 minutes.
The dominant play of the Oilers continued, scoring a fifth goal and chasing Werner before getting one more on the Avalanche’s fourth-string goalie Antoine Bibeau who replaced Werner in the second period.
McDavid continues to have the Avalanche’s number. It doesn’t seem to matter who the Avs have in goal because when McDavid faces off against Colorado, he usually comes away with a strong showing. Coming into tonight’s game, McDavid had 12 points in nine games against the Avalanche in his career. After scoring six points, including his second hat-trick against the Avs, McDavid has now torched Colorado for 18 points in 10 matchups, with Edmonton winning seven of the games.
Werner fell back down to earth and that could be a problem. The reality is, Werner’s showing against the Jets was not something you could expect the young goaltender to mimic every night, especially when playing against two of the more dynamic players in the league. Werner made 40 saves on Tuesday to secure the Avalanche’s shutout win, but he surrendered five goals tonight on just 18 shots against.
With starting goalie Philipp Grubauer still possibly out for another game, Werner may have to start against the high-scoring Vancouver Canucks on Saturday as well.
Burakovsky has come back to life. The former Capitals forward started the season strong before falling into a scoring slump. Last week, Burakovsky scored in the 9-4 victory over the Predators before adding two more tonight. He now has seven goals in 19 games after scoring 12 in each of the past three seasons.
Colorado is slowly getting healthy. After suffering a concussion against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Saturday, center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was inserted back into the lineup. He was joined at practice by goalie Philipp Grubauer, who could draw back into the starter’s role at some point during the road trip. The Avalanche will also have more reinforcements on the way as defenseman Nikita Zadorov is expected to join the team in Vancouver and possibly dress after having surgery to repair a broken jaw last Friday.
That leaves top line forwards Mikko Rantanen and Gabe Landeskog sidelined, alongside depth forward Colin Wilson and backup goalie Pavel Francouz.
The Avalanche and Canucks will faceoff at 8 p.m. MST on Saturday, appearing as the second of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader on Canadian Network CBC