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Bit sloppy, but it's a win

July 29, 2020, 7:39 PM ET [3 Comments]
Rick Sadowski
Colorado Avalanche Blogger •Avalanche Insider • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Avalanche’s first game since March 11 is in the books, even if it was just an exhibition.

They’ll take it, a 3-2 win against Minnesota at Rogers Place in Edmonton without fans on Wednesday, basically a tune-up for Sunday’s first round-robin game with St. Louis.

Gabriel Landeskog, during a 5-on-3 power play, snapped a 2-2 tie at 4:31 of the second period, with Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar collecting the assists.

Here’s my NHL.com GAME RECAP

Landeskog also had an assist on Nathan MacKinnon’s first-period goal at 4:47, which gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. Joonas Donskoi knocked in the rebound of Vladislav Namestnikov’s shot at 1:25 to open the scoring.

“Everybody’s been champing at the bit here the last few weeks and it’s exciting playing against somebody that’s not on your team in scrimmages,” Landeskog said. “More emotions today and hopefully we can ramp that up the further we go.”

The teams combined for 17 penalties totaling 36 minutes. The Avalanche went 1-for-5 on power plays, the Wild 1-for-8.

“It’s a little tough to judge because I thought the game was a little sloppy and scrambly,” coach Jared Bednar said. “With all the penalties both teams took there wasn’t a lot of flow to the game, so it was kind of tough to keep everyone engaged.”

Philipp Grubauer started and stopped 18 of 20 shots in 30:20 of ice time. Pavel Francouz made 14 saves in 29:30.

Rantanen had missed the Avalanche's final 12 games of the regular season with a shoulder injury. Makar missed three practices during training camp with an undisclosed injury.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Rantanen said. “We knew the first game back after a four- or five-month break would be hard, and it was like that. Execution wasn’t really there and stuff like that, but it’s going to get better from here.”

“We’re definitely going to have to ramp up the intensity in terms of checking,” Bednar said. “I didn’t like the way we checked early in the game. In turn, we didn’t get any extended offensive zone time because there was a little too much standing around, not engaged physically enough early in the game.

“As the game went on, we got a little more predictable with our puck movement, we started to play with a little more pace, put more pressure on the puck up ice. We checked better coming back into our zone and we started spending a little more time in the offensive zone and earned some power plays and some chances. So I thought our game improved, we knocked a little rust off our game.”

Defenseman Samuel Girard, who didn’t practice Tuesday, was scratched.

“Girard’s fine,” Bednar said. “He skated (Wednesday) morning and he’ll be back on the ice here (Thursday).”

Conor Timmins took his place, with Kevin Connauton dressing as the seventh defenseman rather than Mark Barberio. Timmins played 9:46, Connauton 9:20.

Bednar was happy with Timmins’ play, even though he took a double-minor for high-sticking Marcus Foligno at 5:04 of the third period. The Avalanche killed it off and finished 7-for-8 on the PK.

“I wanted to see Timmins in the game, wanted to see what he would do against a real opponent, where the intensity is turned up a little bit,” Bednar said. “We’re confident in all the guys that we have, but you can only play so many.”

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