Mikko Rantanen secures overtime victory for Colorado

November 18, 2018; Anaheim, CA, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) celebrates with center Nathan MacKinnon (29) his game winning goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks during the overtime period at Honda Center. MacKinnon provided an assist on the goal. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday night the Avalanche left Anaheim with an overtime win and two points after the NHL’s leading scorer Mikko Rantanen scored a walk-off one-timer avoiding the shootout with just 1.3 seconds left on the clock. Colorado came back from being down 3-1 after what was a slow, uninspired start to the game and turned the tides to open up their road trip with a morale-boosting 4-3 victory in Orange County California.

Just a few weeks ago, one of the biggest areas of concern for the Avalanche was their third-period play having lost a handful of games after going into the third period with a lead or tied. In Anaheim, they proved for the third time in as many games that they have figured out the third period woes as they fought their way back on the backs of their star first-line who ended with a combined eight points on the night.

Philipp Grubauer was back in the net for his second start in a row and his seventh of the season after subtly vocalizing his desire for more starts following the Washington loss. Grubauer was able to put together another strong showing despite essentially scoring Anaheim’s first goal on himself with the butt-end of his stick in the first five minutes of the game.

The first period ended 1-0 and after a slow start, the Avalanche looked to find a spark heading into the second.

Sven Andrighetto was able to breathe some life into a flat-footed Avalanche squad just two minutes into the second period after Patrik Nemeth fed him a pass from behind the net. Andrighetto quickly snapped the puck short-side and added his second goal of the year.

The spark didn’t last long, however, as just 1:06 later Ryan Getzlaf would take the wind out of Colorado’s sails and put his team up 2-1 off of a power-play wrister from up top that Grubauer couldn’t see and the Ducks captain found the wide-open top corner of the net over Grubauer’s blocker for the lead.

Anaheim’s Ondrej Kase made it a 3-1 game shortly after and it felt as though the Ducks were going to start Colorado’s three-game road trip on the wrong foot.

A power-play opportunity late in the second period gave the Avalanche some hope when a rebound bounced to Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller’s right side where Nathan MacKinnon was perfectly positioned and was able to put home a rebound to close the period with a 3-2 score.

The third-period self-confidence for the Avalanche is at a season-high right now and the team flipped their switch to start the final frame, taking over the game and winning the period’s shot-attempt count 22-10.

Nathan MacKinnon’s second goal of the night came with 8:40 left in the period and was another product of great positioning from the Avs ace and as a result, Colorado smelled blood and they continued their late push to leave the Honda Center with a win. Some missed opportunities and big saves from Ryan Miller ended with the Avalanche heading to overtime where they had yet to win this season.

After the typical back-and-forth that comes with a three-on-three overtime, it seemed as though the game would be decided in a shootout. Pontus Aberg was then called for slashing and the Avalanche had one last 15-second window of opportunity to close the game. With 1.3 seconds left Mikko Rantanen scored the game-winner off of a Nathan MacKinnon feed that he one-timed past Ryan Miller for a much-needed two points and was once again the hero the Avalanche desperately needed.

The Avalanche now have two days between games as they now shift focus for Wednesday’s matchup with the L.A. Kings.

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