After a back-to-back weekend and a three-day mini-break, the Colorado Avalanche settled home to start another back-to-back. The first enemy they faced was the LA kings suddenly fighting for his life in the playoffs in the Pacific Division. It was the Avalanche who put on a show and scored at will in a season-high 9-3 win.
The first period couldn’t have gone much better for the Avalanche. It didn’t take long for the home team to get on the board when Nicolas Aube-Kubel pounced on a rebound and got the puck past Kings goalkeeper Jonathan Quick at 2:54. They were just warming up and Val Nichushkin converted in his own rebound after a fantastic run on the ice from Bowen Byram just 39 seconds later.
Nathan MacKinnon sprang into action at 10:15 with a power play goal that chased Quick from the net and then Aube-Kubel scored his second of the period less than a minute later before Cal Petersen had a chance to settle in. network. A 4-0 Avalanche lead after the first 20 minutes was a great start to the game, to put it mildly.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of time left and the Kings worked hard to get everything right in the game. In no time it was back to a game after the Kings found two goals from Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo in the first 10 minutes and cut the Avalanche lead in half.
However, order was restored before the end of the period, as Andre Burakovsky found the back of the net at 13:05 for goal number five. Cale Makar scored a penalty on a breakaway and then scored his 26th goal of the season on the ensuing power play at 18:22 to restore the four-goal lead and end the period up 6-2.
If there was any doubt that this game was already decided when the third period began, MacKinnon quickly closed that thought with his second goal of the game in just over a minute to make the score 7-2 at that point.
Nichuskin added his own second goal at 6:11 and then MacKinnon converted Colorado’s ninth goal at 9:52 for his third career regular-season hat-trick. Phillip Danault found a third goal for the Kings before the final buzzer sounded in a 9-3 Avalanche final.
Many Avalanche players scored points in this contest, but Byram got each of his two assists in the first three minutes of the game in the top two scores. This illustrates just how much more dangerous it makes this team capable of building momentum early on. Byram now has 14 points in 22 games with all but one generated at par. If there was any doubt about his offensive ability, that should be resolved by now. It’s clear Byram is still getting his timing and poise back with the puck, but the instincts and talent he brings to the game have already made a difference since his return.
Although the Avalanche dominated on the scoreboard, they let their guard down in the second half when they gave up two goals and 16 shots to the Kings. The rest of the game was a very professional approach as the team knows that there are much bigger goals ahead. A repeat performance and a strong finish to this four-game homestand will only accentuate that fact.
The second part of tomorrow night’s duel against the visitors New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m. Mt.