Sometimes it’s quality, and not quantity that makes the difference.
The Colorado Avalanche monopolized most of the scoring chances on Sunday, but the Anaheim Ducks made the most of theirs. Anaheim goaltender John Gibson was the best player on the ice, lifting the Ducks to a 3-1 win over the Avs.
Jakob Silfverberg scored in the first minute of play and Gibson took it from there. The Anaheim goaltender stopped 32 shots in the win. Gibson made 13 stops – and was helped by Colorado hitting three pipes – in the first period.
Gibson was just too much for Colorado to handle. He made 23 of his 32 saves through the first two periods, and the Ducks led 2-0 going into the final period despite having been outshot 32-14 going into the third.
Historically, Gibson has been sharp against Colorado. For his career, Gibson is now 8-3-1 against the Avalanche with a .936 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average. He stopped 29 shots in the overtime loss on Friday, but didn’t let it get that far on Sunday.
Colorado didn’t find the net until there was 5:14 left to play in the game, when Mikko Rantanen knocked in a pass from Nathan MacKinnon to make the score 2-1. But a Gabriel Landeskog penalty shortly after the Avalanche goal sliced Colorado’s attack time in half.
They pulled netminder Philipp Grubauer with roughly two minutes to play, but Hampus Lindholm ended the threat with an empty-net goal with 1:40 remaining. Lindholm flipped it in from his own zone, along the wall near the left circle.
The empty-netter that covered two-thirds of the rink was Anaheim’s only shot on goal of the final period, and the three goals by the Ducks came on just 15 shots.
Rantanen Stays Hot For Colorado
Rantanen’s goal in the third gave him five goals in the last five games. The only game he failed to score in this season was the opener, which Colorado lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues.
Coincidentally, the opener was also the only game this season where Rantanen wasn’t paired with MacKinnon and Landeskog. Andre Burakovsky – who scored the lone goal in that loss to the Blues – played with Rantanen and MacKinnon in that one.
Rantanen is no stranger to sizzling starts. He opened last season with points in 11 of Colorado’s first 12 games, notching six goals and 12 assists during that stretch. He also had points in 11 of the first 12 games in 2018-19, collecting five goals and 16 assists in those games.
His offense is needed, as the reunited top line of Rantanen, Landeskog and MacKinnon are about the only thing keeping Colorado afloat offensively.
That top trio has accounted for 10 of the team’s 18 goals, including six of their eight even-strength tallies. MacKinnon’s assist on Rantanen’s goal gave him six on the year. No other forward has more than two.
Early-Season Streaks End For Avs
Silfverberg’s goal less than a minute into the game marked the first time all season that the Avalanche didn’t score first.
Sunday’s loss was also the first time this season the Avalanche failed to score a power-play goal. Colorado was 0-for-4 with the man advantage in the loss, but are still at 34 percent (10-for-29) on the year.
The only other game of this young season where Colorado didn’t score a goal in the first period was, oddly enough, the 8-0 trouncing of St. Louis in the second game of the season. The Avalanche scored four goals in each of the second and third periods in that win.
Either Cale Makar or Devon Toews – Colorado’s top defensive pairing – had scored at least one point in each of the last four games until Sunday. The duo had a combined six shots on goal in the loss, and Makar was robbed twice by the iron in the first period of Sunday’s loss.
Colorado split its four-game road trip with a pair of wins and a pair of losses, and is now 3-3 on the season. They return home for a pair of games against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday and Thursday.
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.