Wilson, Kerfoot help Avalanche escape Buffalo with a victory

Feb 11, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Alexander Kerfoot (13) scores a goal during the first period on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner (40) at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Following a 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, the Colorado Avalanche made it a mission Sunday to have a quick start against the Buffalo Sabres — a team that beat the Avalanche 4-2 in December. The Avalanche accomplished that goal, and escaped Buffalo with a narrow 5-4 victory.

The Avs got the fast start they wanted less than one-minute into the game, as forward Alexander Kerfoot found the back of the net, set up by a Hail Mary pass from Nikita Zadarov to Colin Wilson. Wilson corralled the long pass and moved the puck over to Kerfoot for him to bury it past Robin Lehner.

Following the Kerfoot goal, the Avalanche found themselves on the power play with the chance to extend their lead. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Sabres tied up the game with a shorthanded goal from forward Benoit Poulliet.

The Avalanche answered with shorthanded goal of their own, however, as Matt Nieto convert on a Sabres error — closing out the first period with the Avalanche in the lead.

The Avalanche kicked off the second period with another goal in the first minute. This time it was Wilson, notching his 100th career goal on a blistering shot from the left circle.

The Avs’ trouble on their own power play continued, as the Sabres notched second short-handed goal of the game. Rookie Casey Nelson converted a rebound off his own shot, wrapping the puck around the net and past Jonathan Bernier.

Following those two shorthanded goals against, the Avalanche finally converted on the power play. Tyson Jost notched his fifth goal of the season, cleaning up on a long rebound after a blast from Tyson Barrie to extend the lead to 4-2.

A few minutes later, the Avalanche extended their lead to three goals. Skating through the slot, Gabriel Bourque wired a backhand shot past Lehner to extend the lead — the goal would prove to be the game winner.

Special teams continued to be a difference-maker in the third period, as the Sabres cut the Avalanche lead back to two goals with a power-play tally from former Avalanche Ryan O’Reilly.

The Sabres continued to push the pace throughout the final seven minutes. After pulling Lehner for the man-advantage with three minutes remaining in the third period. The Sabres fired a shot from the point, where the puck would ultimately bounce off of Samuel Girard’s stick and into the back of the net. Evander Kane was credited with the goal.

The Sabres earned plenty of chances in the dying minutes of the game, but Bernier (28 saves) and the Avalanche ultimately held onto the lead, earning a much-needed road victory.

Colorado moves to 30-21-4 (64 points) with the win. They are 11-14-3 on the road. The Avs are two points out of the final Wild Card spot, held by Minnesota with Anaheim and Los Angeles between them.

Observations

  • Colin Wilson
    • He continues to play the role of a difference maker — earning his 100th career goal in this game, but ultimately just playing how he needs to play to continue to give the Avalanche depth.
  • Special Teams Issues
    • The Avalanche finished this game going 1-for-5 on the power play, but the largest concern is the two shorthanded goals against in this game.
    • One of the large reasons for the two shorthanded goals against was the Avalanche lacking ability to effectively enter the Sabres zone for any scoring chances.
  • Nikita Zadarov
    • Setting the tone with a beautiful long pass, which lead to the opening goal from Kerfoot, Zadarov continues to impress for the Avalanche against his former team.
  • Letting o=Off the Gas
    • In what continues to be a recurring issue for the Avalanche, the Avalanche nearly blew a three-goal lead in the third period. As the season continues to roll along, the Avalanche must clean this up, as they continue to seek a playoff spot in the tough Central division.
  • Gabriel Bourque
    • Sporting the “A,” Bourque continues to impress with three goals in the past four games. Although he’s not leading the team in points, Bourque provides a physical presence and also has the consistent ability to find the back of the net.

Whats next?

The Colorado Avalanche will have a few days off, and then they will host the Montreal Canadians on Valentines Day. The game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MST. A win would tie the franchise record for most consecutive home victories.

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