The Colorado Avalanche have lost their 4th game of the season after dropping last night's game 4-3 to the Seattle Kraken, who continue to be a thorn in the side of the Avs.
Everything seems to be an uphill battle lately for this team. It's a struggle, it's a fight, nothing is easy, and nor should it be; This is the NHL, the best league in the world, but the Avs seem to be fighting it a lot harder than usual lately. The PP isn't as crisp as usual, teams are blocking up the neutral zone and stopping zone entries, the PK hasn't been lights out and the goaltending hasn't been all world. Let's break this game down.
Seattle broke open the scoring. Jaden Schwartz came down the right wing, and beat Ivan Prosvetov on the blocker side after a good turnaround pass from his own zone by Vince Dunn. With only 1:21 left in the first, the Avs are down 1-0.
The 2nd period opened up, and under 5 minutes in, Oliver Bjorkstrand carries the puck in, and looks to be lined up in the trolley tracks by Arturri Lehkonen. Bjorkstrand goes low, and sends Lehkonen over top. Bjorkstrand got up first, and found himself in the slot with the puck. He fires blocker side again and the Kraken take a 2-0 lead.
Colorado would then show some signs of life. Nathan MacKinnon streaks up on a 2 on 1 with Bowen Byram. MacKinnon's saucer pass wasn't ideal, but Byram gathers it in and absolutely snipes a shot top corner on Phillipe Grubauer. 2-1 Kraken, the Av's are climbing back!
The 1 goal lead would get extended back to a 2 goal lead, with Matty Berniers sniping his 1st of the young season on the power play. The Av's were in a tight PK box, cutting off passing lanes, but this allowed Berniers all kinds of space to walk in and pick his spot. 3-1 Kraken.
The scariest play of the game came next. The Avalanche are trying to apply pressure on the forecheck, and Lehkonen is coming in hard to the loose puck. He and Jamie Oleksiak make contact with each other, and Lehkonen slides head first into the boards hard, which looked to me almost like his neck compressed toward his spine. It was chilling to watch, but good news! Lehkonen skated off with a little assistance, went to the hospital and was later cleared to go home. Hopefully this bodes well for the health and well being of Arturri, as that was a scary play.
The Avs would come back with pressure after this. Nathan MacKinnon comes streaking into the zone on a 2 on 1 with Mikko Rantanen. The Moose would one time the pass, but it seemed telegraphed as Grubauer slid across to make the save look easy. Fast forward a few seconds, and the puck comes to Cale Makar on the point. He makes a laser pass down to MacKinnon, who was alone on the left side of the net. A quick snipe and a goal for Nate means a 3-2 score for the Kraken.
Going into the third, we have to go all the way to less than 10 minutes left in the game. Rantanen wins a puck battle in the corner, and passes it to MacKinnon in the other corner. Mack comes out and sets it up on a tee for Devon Toews, who rips a slapper on net. Val Nichushkin gets a stick on it, and tips it in for a 3-3 tie!
Unfortunately, this is where the good news ends for Colorado. An egregious display of defending with 30 seconds left in the game.... The puck comes to none other than Oliver Bjorkstrand in the corner behind the Avs net. Byram and Colton are in front of the net with another Kraken player in front. Byram makes a move to go after the puck carrier in behind the net, and Ross Colton decides to go with him, leaving his man in front alone. The puck of course comes out to that player all alone, and while Prospetov makes the initial save, the puck comes out to the side where Bjorkstrand has beaten both his guys from behind the net for the easy shot into the net. You can see when Colton and Byram start going after the puck carrier on this play, they both realize their mistake. Colton gets hung up on the net trying to correct his error, but there is just too much time and space out front. Since Ross and Bo have turned back, they dont even get coverage on the original puck carrier, who ends up scoring the GWG.
This game was a physical battle, and unfortunately, due to a bad set of decisions with 30 seconds left, the Avs lose their first at home this year, and move their record to 8-4. Thats still very solid, leaving them 1 point behind the Dallas Stars for the division lead, but this is propped up by the 6 game winning streak to start the season. Since then, it's been a rocky road for the Avs. (Not as rocky as the Oilers season, mind you, but still rocky).
Next up, the Avalanche will take on the St. Louis Blues at 9 PM EST on Saturday, November 11th. I would expect to see Alexandar Georgiev back between the pipes, and hopefully Arturri Lehkonen is able to suit back up....