The Colorado Avalanche outlasted the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Monday, and nobody seemed to mind when the game went to overtime. Nathan MacKinnon scored the game-winner 52 seconds into the extra frame, capping off a regular-season game filled with playoff intensity.
It was the first time the Oilers faced the Avalanche in 845 days – their last meeting coming on Nov. 27, 2019. Colorado’s victory was its fourth in a row, while the loss snapped Edmonton’s five-game winning streak.
Here are three takeaways from Monday’s win:
Kadri Gets 500th Point
Nazem Kadri is in the midst of his best offensive season, and it was fitting that the Avalanche center hit a huge career milestone on an assist. Kadri delivered a helper on Mikko Rantanen’s first-period power-play goal, giving him 500 points for his career. It was his 52nd assist of the season, tying him for sixth in the NHL in that category.
Not many figured Kadri would hit the 500-point plateau this season. He entered the campaign with 425 career points, and had eclipsed more than 50 points just twice in his previous 12 seasons. This season started innocently enough – with just a goal and three assists through his first six games – but then Kadri blasted off. He racked up six goals and 15 assists over the next 10 games and was on his way to the career year.
Kadri has 75 points this season, which is well past his previous career high of 61 set in 2016-17. But the real story is his 52 assists. He had never posted more than 30 in a season before, and had just 38 combined in his first two seasons in Colorado. He also has 17 games this season with two assists or more. His 23 goals are also the third-most for him in a season (he has a pair of 32-goal campaigns), and his goal scoring has proven to be a good indicator for Colorado success, as they are 20-1-1 when he scores a goal this season.
Rantanen Continues Power-Play Prowess
The power play has become a comfy place for Rantanen. The Avalanche forward scored a pair of goals on Monday, and both of them came on the man advantage. He has been the driving force for Colorado’s power play all season. His 14 power-play goals are third-best in the NHL, and his 29 points on the power play lead the team as well.
Monday’s first goal gave Rantanen 30 goals on the season, and his second tied a career high. He previously netted 31 goals in 2018-19. This is the third time in his career he has hit 30 goals. He also has a point on the power play in four straight games, and five of his last six.
Kailer Yamamoto evened the score at 1-1 roughly four minutes into the second period, but then gave the Avs a power play less than two minutes later when he tripped Logan O’Connor. Rantanen made them pay, blasting a rocket off of Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse for his second goal of the game. The goal was enough to push the Avalanche to overtime, where they went on to improve to 34-2-4 when scoring first.
Kuemper Wins Battle Against Smith
Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper has always had Edmonton’s number. Unfortunately, entering Monday’s game, Oilers’ goaltender Mike Smith had also shined against the Avalanche his whole career. Entering Monday, Kuemper had just one regulation loss in 13 career games against Edmonton, while Smith had only one regulation loss to Colorado in 17 career games. That meant the overtime came as little surprise, but Kuemper held on for the victory thanks to MacKinnon’s overtime goal.
It wasn’t a shutout, but it was still a pretty good night for Kuemper. He was coming off back-to-back shutouts for the second time this season, making him the only goaltender in Avalanche history to accomplish that feat in the same season. Yamamoto solved him early in the period, and then forced a turnover to setup Edmonton’s second goal off the stick of Evander Kane.
With the score knotted at 2-2 entering the third, neither Kuemper nor Smith conceded a goal – despite both of them having to stand tall on penalty kills for their team. Smith wound up making 28 stops in the loss, while Kuemper turned aside 23 in the win. It was the third consecutive victory for Kuemper, who has allowed just three goals in his last four games. Colorado has two more home games this week, hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.
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Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.