The road trip for the Colorado Avalanche continues, and it sees the team in Raleigh, North Carolina against the Carolina Hurricanes. This is the second and last meeting between the two former WHA transplants, as well as former rivals in the old Adams Division. As many hockey historians and fans recall, the Quebec Nordiques and the Hartford Whalers co-existed in the Adams Division for several years, but were hard luck until the teams relocated to Denver and Raleigh, respectively. Since then, the Avalanche won three Stanley Cups, while the Hurricanes finally won one of their own in 2006.
Right now, both teams are deep in the Stanley Cup conversation, and are jockeying for position. The goalie matchup was Alexandar Georgiev against Pyotr Kochetkov, and the Avs were one down already. Martin Necas put one in very early; the first shot of the game. He liked scoring so much that he decided to do it again, to make it 2-0 for Carolina. At that point, the Avs were leading 3-2 in shots. Yes, you read that right. Georgiev didn't have a save yet. He would get one by stopping Carolina's third shot, but he would not stop their fourth. Who did that shot come from? You guessed it: Martin Necas. A natural hat trick just like that. Oh boy.
I'm going to be honest, I actually considered taking down the ESPN+ app, because nothing was happening. However, we would get one late in the period, and it was Zach Parise. The 39-year-old new acquistion, in his third game with Colorado, gets his first of the season and his first with the Avs. So at that moment, I'm thinking, "Well, we finally got one. Now we have to start to climb back from down two."
Then, a funny thing happened. So once play resumes, I suddenly see the red light on. Then the number changed from 1 to 2. I swear, I didn't know what the hell happened, but I later see the Avs celebrating. We scored. The puck was dropped, Samuel Girard got the puck, he shot it from just behind the blue line, and it somehow went off the bar and in. Marc Moser's reaction was hilarious, and Mark Rycroft, like a lot of us, had no bloody clue what happened, but just like that, it was a one goal game. During intermission, I watched the goal a number of times, and the app had it from the Hurricanes feed. Tripp Tracy, the Hurricanes color analyst since their second year in Raleigh (1998-99), had a very hilarious reaction to that goal: "Oh boy." True story: I seriously thought about Rasmus Andersson's goal on Mike Smith in the 2022 playoffs when that happened.
So yeah, it was a one goal game, and I was really pulling for the boys to get this evened up, but oh man, all I saw was a lot of blown chances, even some from Nathan MacKinnon. The second period saw Michael Bunting make it 4-2, and that held after 40 minutes and into the third, where Seth Jarvis' empty-netter sealed it.
Seven seconds. That's basically all we had, officially. I watched the replay, and in actuality, Parise and Girard's goals were actually scored four seconds apart. It was great to see Parise get his first with the Avs, and Girard's goal was nuts, but that's where the positives end. I forgot to mention that despite the fact that Georgiev gave up three goals on five 1st period shots, it was Kochetkov who was pulled, and Antti Raanta finished the game for Carolina. The Avs are now 0-2-1 in this road trip, but that's not the alarming stat I want to harp on. It's this: that's two straight games without a point for Nathan MacKinnon. You have to go back to Games 7 and 8 of the Avs' season for the last time that MacKinnon went pointless, and those were the games where the Avs were shutout. As for the points race, MacKinnon is now down 87-85, as Nikita Kucherov had a goal on the same evening.
The last leg of the road trip will be Tampa Bay, and with MacKinnon and Kucherov in this race, that's going to be a must see. But that's on February 15. The Avs will be in Florida for the next game on this trip, but it'll be in Sunrise against the Panthers on Saturday.
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