Now that they’re away from home, the Colorado Avalanche are trading quantity for quality.
After piling on an absurd number of shots during their homestand, Colorado managed to find the net twice in the first period on just eight shots, which set the tone for their 5-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. The shots came later, as the Avalanche still finished with 35 shots in the win, including 21 in the second period.
The victory extended their winning streak to seven games. Here are three takeaways from Monday’s win in Arizona:
Grubauer Stays Sharp
If Philipp Grubauer wasn’t on anyone’s Vezina Trophy shortlist after last week’s performance, they should be paying attention now.
The Avalanche goaltender stopped 24 shots and only gave up a late power-play goal. Over the team’s seven-game winning streak, Grubauer has allowed just four goals on 148 shots. He has two shutouts and has allowed only one goal on three occasions. He started six of seven games but had two shutout periods of play in relief of Hunter Miska in the 8-4 win against the Anaheim Ducks on March 16.
He’s already surpassed his career-high for shutouts in a season with five (which leads the NHL), but his bid for back-to-back shutouts was foiled late in the third period on a power-play goal by the Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Grubauer was coming off a 31-save effort in a 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, and Ekman-Larsson’s late tally snapped a shutout streak of 148:37.
Grubauer also leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.71) and is second in the league in save percentage (.930).
Top Line Torching Opposition
The Avs’ top line was red hot in the last two games of their nine-game homestand against the Wild, and Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog continued their sizzling play on Monday.
Rantanen scored a goal in the first period – getting assists from both MacKinnon and Landeskog. Over the last three games, that line has accounted for a blistering 20 points; Rantanen has four goals, while MacKinnon has six assists.
The goal was Rantanen’s 18th of the season, the most in the West Division and tied for third in the NHL, three behind leaders Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
MacKinnon and Rantanen extended their point streaks to six games apiece, and Landeskog has a point in the last five games. MacKinnon’s team-leading assist total moved to 23, which ranks third in the division.
Bellemare Gets Avs Going
It wasn’t Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s first goal of the season, but it probably felt like it.
Through 26 games, he has two goals, both empty-netters. Bellemare scored Colorado’s first goal on Monday, his first of the season with an opposing goaltender on the ice.
The goal came off assists from Matt Calvert and J.T. Compher, who were also starving for points; they now have three assists each on the season. Calvert only has three points on the year while Compher has two goals and five points, but Monday’s assist was his first point in five games.
The fourth line has become the fire starter for the Avalanche, with Bellemare, Calvert and Compher on Monday, but Logan O’Connor has delivered, as well. Head coach Jared Bednar has sent them out early and often, and their energy really got Colorado going against the Coyotes.
Despite scoring with only 5:38 left in the first, Bellemare’s goal was on Colorado’s fourth shot of the period. Once the fourth line got things going, Rantanen scored on the team’s next shot to make it 2-0, just 1:06 later.
Colorado takes on Arizona again on Tuesday at Gila River Arena in Phoenix.
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.