The red-hot Colorado Avalanche, coming off a big win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, took their winning tear far west for a three game road trip. First up, a stop over in Tempe to face off against the Arizona Coyotes, a team who has been a surprising challenge for the Avs in recent years. The two teams have only been division rivals since the 2021-22 season, which saw the Coyotes moved to the Central Division to make way for the expansion Seattle Kraken's placement in to the Pacific Division. As an Avs fan, I do thank the Coyotes for allowing us to acquire Darcy Kuemper. We only had him for that season, but it resulted in a Stanley Cup.
The goalie matchup was Alexandar Georgiev against Connor Ingram; the latter who I still remember as a Nashville Predator during that 2022 run. Quiet period for the most part, but as usual in an Avs/Yotes game, it was absolutely back and forth. We would not see a penalty until the 14:06 mark of the opening frame, and it was a holding call on Josh Manson. Yotes PP is killed off--no shots. Avs' first PP came at the tail end of the first, and it was successful. Cale Makar, in the bottom half minute of the period, snipes one past Ingram, eerily similar to the game winner he scored on Ingram in the 2022 playoffs. Mikko Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin with the helpers, and the first period ended with the Avs up 1-0.
In the second period, the Coyotes struck early; Travis Boyd tied the game at 3:03, but over a minute and a half later, Miles Wood gave the Avs the lead back. An absolute beauty from Wood; his fourth of the season. Avs pressed for another goal, and ended up with a power play which was killed off. Yotes received a late PP that resulted in a tie game. Nick Schmaltz at 16:22, with the assists coming from Alex Kerfoot and Clayton Keller. After two periods, it's 2-2, and Arizona didn't waste time in the third. Michael Carcone scores his 10th of the season just 68 seconds in to the frame, and just like that, Arizona has their first lead of the game. While watching this, my thought: "A power play would be nice." I had a feeling that if the Avs got a power play, the game would be tied. Sure enough, the PP game, and sure enough, it's 3-3. Nathan MacKinnon from Makar and Rantanen at 11:04, and in spite of near game-winners from both teams, the score held up after 60 minutes.
The Avs went to overtime for only the second time all season. The only other time that Colorado saw extra hockey was all the way back in the second game of the team's season; the shootout win over the San Jose Sharks. Both teams had good control of the puck in the overtime, and as Nick Bjugstad broke away, he was hooked by Bowen Byram. Power play for the Yotes in OT. The bad part: if Byram hadn't committed that penalty, it was game over. The good news: the power play actually ended up killed off. The bad news: the scrum continued as the PP ended, and three seconds after the kill, Bjugstad scores. Arizona won, 4-3, in overtime.
This was a good game from the Avs. I'm absolutely not sweating this loss. It was just one of those things. It happens. At least it happened in OT, so that's another point for us, giving us 31 this season. That's the only thing that's bugged me about the Avs: we have played very little overtime this season. Yes, it's nice to get those regulation wins, but we need to be exposed to some OT this season. We've played 22 games, yet only went past regulation twice. I see overtime in the regular season as practice for overtime in the playoffs, at least for teams like the Avs who are big time Cup contenders. As for the numbers, we scored two PPGs tonight, very good show from the PP. Cale Makar gets two more points, but unfortunately, this is the first loss in a game where Makar actually scores a goal.
With the OT loss, the Avs are now 7-1-1 in our last nine games. Still a very impressive run that got us to the top of the Central, and also put us among the top of the entire league. Part 2 of Colorado's three-game western road trip will occur on Saturday, when the Avs head to the very city where our season started: Los Angeles.
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