Strong start helps Avalanche bounce back in Buffalo

Oct 11, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) skates with the puck against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton (40) during the third period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

After Colorado’s 5-2 loss in Columbus Tuesday night, coach Jared Bednar was quoted as saying, “We didn’t play the game way we wanted to play.” He emphasized the importance of the team’s intensity, compete-level, energy, and the way the start games.

The Avalanche responded to Bednar’s criticism in the best possible way Thursday, defeating the Buffalo Sabres, 6-1. The beatdown began with a three-goal first period and was capped off by a dominant performance by Semyon Varlamov in the net. Following the victory over the Sabres, the Avalanche are now 3-1 and seem to possess a unique confidence in their ability to score.

The Avalanche relied on the power play to open up their scoring, as they buried each of their first two goals with the man advantage. Tyson Barrie’s shot from the point was tipped by Tyson Jost, who stood in front of the net and was credited with his first goal of the year.

The net-front presence continued to be an asset for the Avalanche when Colin Wilson notched a goal after finding the puck in the slot. Wilson’s goal proved to be the game winner, putting the Avalanche up 2-0 with just over six minutes remaining in the first period.

The secondary scoring has provided a handful of goals already this season and Thursday night was no different. Carl Soderberg added his third goal of the year before the first period came to a close and the Avalanche headed into the dressing room with a comfortable lead and a confidence in their game that Buffalo had no answer for.

The Sabres were able to squeak one of their 31 shots past Varlamov late in the second period, but Nathan MacKinnon quickly answered back with his fourth goal of the season just 28 seconds later.

Both teams seemed to be going through the motions throughout the third period, but it did feature a couple of exciting breakaway goals from Alex Kerfoot and Nathan MacKinnon. While the goals were meaningless in the long run result of the game, the goals were executed with great speed and style, boosting the confidence in both the MacKinnon and Kerfoot as well as the entire team as a whole. MacKinnon now has five goals in four games.

The Avalanche look to ride their confidence and build off of the important road win when they head home Saturday night to face the Calgary Flames. Another strong start and contributions across the depth chart will be crucial to beat Calgary in order to generate some momentum heading into a four-game east coast swing.

Puck drop Saturday night will be at 8 PM MST.