On Friday night, the Colorado Avalanche ruined Matt Duchene’s return to Denver by lighting the lamp with five unanswered goals to defeat the Ottawa Senators 6-3.

The Avalanche speed and chemistry was on full display in the last half of the game. Their top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog was dominant. This trio made overcoming an early 3-1 deficit look easy, en route to securing a valuable two points.

Ottawa’s Early Lead

The Senators appeared strong early in this hockey game. Ryan Dzingel scored less than three minutes into the first period when he roofed a shot from just outside the crease. From there, the Senators managed to obtain a two-goal lead, twice, and found themselves leading 3-1 at the half-way mark of the game.

Duchene played a major role in the Senators early success. After Dzingel’s goal, Duchene scored the next two. His first goal against his former club was a quick deflection off a Cody Ceci point shot. Duchene was in close to Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who didn’t stand a chance on the tip. Ironically, this happened immediately following the Avalanche’s video tribute thanking Duchene for his time in Colorado.

Duchene scored his second of the night off a one-timer from a beautiful Colin White pass. He also had a grade-A opportunity to complete the hat trick with 17:44 remaining in the third period, when he had Grubauer out of position, but shot wide.

Up to this point, the game seemed to be Ottawa’s to win. That was until the Avalanche sirens started to sound.

Avalanche Wipeout

The Avalanche were triggered just after the half-way point in the game. At first, it started slowly from a Samuel Girard goal. Yet, as the game progressed, it snowballed and grew into a dominant force. Over the course of the final 29 minutes and 40 seconds in the game, Colorado peppered Anderson with shots, hemmed the Senators in their zone with tremendous offensive pressure, and scored five consecutive goals, which completely obliterated their early deficit.

The Avalanche’s top line of MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog deserve most of the credit. Against Ottawa, they combined for 10 points (3G, 7A) in sixty minutes. As impressive as this is, their offensive potency should come as no surprise. Together, these three have exploded for 43 points in Colorado’s first 10 games. After Friday, they now have a combined 53 points in 11 games.

Outmatched Again

In the latter half of this game, it became clear that Ottawa’s defensive players were simply outmatched against Colorado’s supreme talent. At times, it was reminiscent of their last two games against the Boston Bruins, with David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand doing most of the damage. Senators head coach Guy Boucher made this observation after the game: “Very similar to last game, it was exact same as last game”, Boucher mused. “The beginning of the third period, and after that, we didn’t defend well on the rush against their top players”. 

Against the Avalanche, the match-up disparity was perhaps at an all-season worst when the game was tied 3-3 in the third period. Shortly after Carl Soderberg tied the game on the power play, the Avs went to work on another attack, hemming Ottawa in their zone for exactly two minutes. For the next 120 seconds, MacKinnon, Rantanen, Landeskog, and Tyson Barrie had their way with Ottawa. The unfortunate Senators had a subordinate match-up of Ceci, Max Lajoie, Tom Pyatt, Magnus Paajarvi, and Max McCormick on the ice. Luckily, Ottawa’s goalie Craig Anderson managed to stop the merciless play, as the gassed Senators were aching for air after being nearly buried alive by the Avalanche pressure.

Although the Avs failed to strike in those two minutes of attack, they scored twice in the next three minutes. This included the game-winning goal courtesy of Landeskog, and an insurance marker by MacKinnon. Colorado would outshoot Ottawa 14-4 in the third period and double the Senators in the final score.

Smith Injured

Ottawa’s Zack Smith was injured with 12:14 remaining in the second period. Smith fell after getting tangled up with Ian Cole and was accidentally clipped in the face by Matt Calvert’s skate. It was a dangerous incident, which resulted in Smith leaving the game and not returning. Afterward Boucher informed the media that Smith has a broken bone in his face, and is immediately returning to Canada’s capital.

Smith’s injury is a major loss for the Senators. He has been an impactful player for the team this season. After a tumultuous start, which saw him get waived in the pre-season, Smith has collected five points in eight games (2G, 3A). This is already over a quarter of his total point production from last season.

“Losing Smitty was very hard because after that, we’re down trying to compensate for missing centres”, said Boucher. “Once you start losing guys, one guy after another, at some point it gets hard on the other players…and I have to be honest, we have other guys who just finished the game and they barely finished the game”, said Boucher, referring to the high elbow on Tom Pyatt‘s face and Nikita Zadorov’s hit from behind on Paajarvi.

Smith only played 8:49 of ice time against the Avalanche before leaving the game. At the time of his injury, the Senators were ahead 2-0. Interestingly, after Smith’s departure, the Avalanche’s offence came alive, scoring their first goal of the game less than two minutes later.

Snap Shots

  • This was Duchene’s first return to Colorado since he was traded to Ottawa last year. He now has goals against all 31 NHL teams after scoring against the Avalanche on Friday.
  • Cody Ceci and Max McCormick returned to the line-up for Ottawa.
  • Ottawa is now 0-2 in their last two games with 12 forwards and six defensemen in the line-up. Previous to this, they dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen for three games and went 3-0.
  • The Senators penalty kill was mostly absent tonight, going 1-for-3, or 33 per cent. Alternatively, Colorado had an exceptional power play, going 2-for-3, or 66 per cent.

Official 3 Stars of the Game

  • Mikko Rantanen, Colorado (1G, 3)
  • Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado (1G, 2A)
  • Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado (1G, 2A)

Up Next

The Ottawa Senators continue their road trip with a visit to Vegas on Monday, October 29.

Scoring Summary

Period Team Score Time Goal Assists
1 Ottawa 1-0 2:42 Ryan Dzingel (3) Thomas Chabot (8), Chris Tierney (8)
1 Ottawa 2-0 10:27 Matt Duchene (2) Cody Ceci (1), Colin White (3)
2 Colorado 2-1 10:20 Samuel Girard (1) Gabriel Landeskog (5), Erik Johnson (6)
2 Ottawa 3-1 10:32 Matt Duchene (3) Colin White (4)
2 Colorado 3-2 14:32 Mikko Rantanen (5) Nathan MacKinnon (8), Tyson Barrie (6)
3 Colorado 3-3 1:00 Carl Soderberg (4) Matt Calvert (2), Tyson Barrie (7)
3 Colorado 3-4 6:14 Gabriel Landeskog (9) Mikko Rantanen (13), Tyson Barrie (8)
3 Colorado 3-5 8:38 Nathan MacKinnon (9) Gabriel Landeskog (6), Mikko Rantanen (14)
3 Colorado 3-6 15:33 Matt Nieto (2) Nathan MacKinnon (9), Mikko Rantanen (15)

 

Cover Photo Credit: David Zalubowski / AP

Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.

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