Calgary bests the Avs 5-4 in Overtime

Dec 9, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) takes a shot against Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) as defenseman Noah Hanifin (55) defends in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche returned from their three-game road trip to face off against the Calgary Flames. The Avalanche, who have battled an injury-filled roster all season, looked for their seventh consecutive win on Monday night against their Pacific Division foes. It would take an extra frame, but the Flames ended the Avs; win streak beating them 5-4 in overtime.

The first period saw both teams start looking a bit sluggish. Despite being a bit slow, it was Colorado that found the net first. Ryan Graves found himself jumping up into an odd-man rush, receiving a cross-ice pass from Joonas Donskoi and buried the puck under the arm of Calgary’s netminder David Rittich.  

Both teams picked the pace up the remaining 14 minutes of the first period, but neither team found the back of the net again. Colorado had a chance on the power play but was able to get a shot on net in the two-minute tripping minor. 

The Flames got the scoring started in the second frame when Derek Ryan found the back of the net off a shot from the point for his fifth goal of the year. 

Valeri Nichushkin made sure that the game wasn’t tied for long when he outmuscled the reigning Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano for a Ryan Graves rebound and dangled Rittich. Nichushkin now has five goals and eight points on the season. 

Colorado held the 2-1 lead for 6 minutes until Matthew Tkachuk scored on a power play to tie the game at 2.

The Flames found the back of the net just 12 seconds into the third period after a bad turnover, and Andrew Mangiapane capitalized on the mistake. Less than two minutes later, Calgary scored again on an odd-man rush, giving them the two-goal advantage.

Nathan MacKinnon brought the Avalanche back to within one goal after roofing a wrist shot past Rittich for his team-leading 19th goal of the year. The comeback didn’t stop there, as Joonas Donskoi benefitted from all of the attention being on MacKinnon, and scored his 13th goal of the year. After three periods of play, the two teams were tied, and an extra period was needed. 

Sean Monahan took advantage of a MacKinnon turn over in overtime and ended the game with his ninth goal of the season. 

What did we learn from Monday’s overtime loss against the Flames? 

Graves stepped up in a big way, but not having Cale Makar hurt as much as expected. Joe Sakic deserves endless praise for his offseason acquisitions. Its been proven already that the offensive depth issue from last season has been fixed. However, it is becoming apparent that there might not be as much depth on the defensive end as we all once thought. Currently, with Erik Johnson and Cale Makar out, the defense needed to step up. Ryan Graves did precisely that against the Flames, but he is just one guy. Calle Rosen, who filled in on the second power-play line, didn’t look very strong. Other than Graves, there was little offensive production from the defense, and it was clear.

It might be an okay thing to split up the top line. I know, but hear me out. In 16 games, players get used to playing together. MacKinnon got used to playing with Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky. When Nazem Kadri returns from injury, he will fit well with Landeskog and Rantanen at the center spot. 

The Avalanche got lucky getting a point out of that game. Colorado started flat in the third period, while Calgary came out flying. An effort like that should have cost them the game, but MacKinnon did what he does best and carry this team back into the game. I know a loss is never desired, but walking away with a point was a blessing. 

Next time out

The Avalanche continue their homestand on Wednesday night and look to bounce back against the Philidelphia Flyers. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM MT from the Pepsi Center.

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