Life without Nathan MacKinnon is off to a good start for the Avalanche.

Playing without their best player, who is out for 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury, the Avalanche got goals from four different players en route to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Edmonton Oilers. It was the type of scoring by committee that the team will need as they try to survive without their star center.

After a scoreless first period, the Avalanche came out strong in the second, and got on the board just three minutes in, as the gigantic Nikita Zadorov made a great pinch along the boards and beat Oilers goalie Al Montoya up high to give the Avs the lead.

Just five minutes later, Sam Girard pounded home a slap shot on the power play for his first goal in an Avalanche uniform. The Avalanche have been desperate for some scoring from the defense and the two youngsters provided it tonight.

The two-goal lead would not last long, as superstar Connor McDavid got behind Patrik Nemeth and buried his own rebound out of mid-air to cut the lead in half for the Avs.

With about a minute left in the second period, the Oilers appeared to tie the game on a greasy goal by Drake Caggiula. The refs initially called it a goal after their initial review, but Jared Bednar challenged the play for goaltender interference — and ultimately was able to win the challenge — as Caggiula very clearly shoved Bernier’s glove into the net with the puck. The challenge would prove to be a huge turning point in the game. Just seconds later, Blake Comeau would score shorthanded to give the Avs a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.

The Avs quickly found out that no lead against a Connor McDavid led team is safe. Caggiula managed to score a legal goal just seven minutes into the period to cut the lead in half, and with the net empty, the Oilers were able to tie the game in the final seconds. McDavid found himself alone after a shot bounced off the boards and the 21-year-old superstar didn’t miss scoring his 16th of the year. For the second straight game, the Avs had blown a lead in the third period, but this time, there was a different ending.

J.T. Compher, expected to take on a big role with Nathan MacKinnon missing, scored his second overtime game-winner 2:28 into the extra period, giving the Avs a much-needed victory after three straight losses. Tyson Barrie helped make the play happen with a great pinch, redeeming himself after a poor decision that cost the team in overtime the two nights earlier. The best play of overtime may have been just seconds into the extra period, as Nikita Zadorov tracked down a flying Connor McDavid and negated what looked to be a sure breakaway.

The Avalanche now head to Winnipeg to take on the division-leading Jets on Saturday.  The game starts at 5 PM MST.

Five Observations

  • Zadorov had a monster game, bouncing back from a sub-par performance against Vancouver. The goal he scored was tremendous, and the team controlled 57% of the shot attempts with him on the ice in over 20 minutes of even strength time. He made several key defensive plays against McDavid, including the game-saving play in overtime.
  • Alexander Kerfoot looked very comfortable on the top line. Although they were not able to score at even strength, they were a consistent threat, and Kerfoot looked solid on all fronts.
  • The line of Colin Wilson, J.T. Compher, and Tyson Jost is now the clear-cut second line and they all played very well. All three of them were the Avs best possession players. Compher got the winner in overtime, and Jost nearly had his fourth goal of the season in the third period on a great rush.
  • While Jonathan Bernier didn’t need to be spectacular, he was very strong and had a much-needed bounce back game after a poor game in Vancouver.
  • The Avs are going to need to find a way to get Samuel Girard a little more ice time than he recieved tonight, as he played just under 15 minutes. The obvious answer is to cut into Patrik Nemeth’s time, but the coaching staff is very high on Nemeth. Nemeth iced the puck with plenty of time to make a play just before Edmonton tied the game.