Avalanche Oilers Hockey

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) is stopped by Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner (74) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Avalanche won in overtime on the road Saturday night, 3-2, against the Edmonton Oilers. Here are three takeaways from the victory.

Slump ends

The Avalanche, desperate for a victory having lost in five consecutive outings, faced a road challenge Saturday against likely the best player in the world; Oilers center Connor McDavid. A solid litmus test for the resolve of this injured-but-still-talented Colorado team. Would they finally break their slump in Edmonton?

Yep. Colorado rallied from being down 2-0 to force overtime. Then Cale Makar scored the game-winner 2:09 into the extra period on a breakaway, going top shelf for his 10th goal of the season. It punctuated one of the gutsiest victories of the season. Especially for Makar. He skated 32:11 in regulation before playing hero in overtime.

B-Rad

Brad Hunt chose the perfect time to score his first goal as member of the Avalanche. His third period sprint off the bench to keep the puck in play, and then snapping it into the net, tied the game early in the third period. Hunt is an easy player to root for considering his backstory. 

The 34-year is playing for his seventh NHL team. His partially toothless smile and blue-collar mentality is well appreciated in Colorado's dressing room. Hunt isn't flashy. But he provides a steady back-end presence for a team still missing its second defensive pair to injury (Bowen Byram and Josh Manson). 

MacKinnon/Rantanen split

Give Jared Bednar credit. He’s not sitting on his hands waiting for Colorado to find its scoring spark. It’s why the Avalanche coach tinkered with the lineup Saturday. Bednar’s latest move? Separating Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon on the top line.

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It makes plenty of sense. The Avalanche are struggling to finish scoring chances, and putting Rantanen (26 goals) on the second line spreads out point production. It seemed to work. The Avalanche looked like a much more balanced team compared to the collapse in Vancouver. MacKinnon scored on a third-period breakaway to get Colorado within one goal of Edmonton's lead. Don’t be surprised if Bednar sticks with the MacKinnon/Rantanen split moving forward.


GAMER BOX

Oilers 3, Avalanche 2

What happened: The Avs came back from being two goals down to finally end a miserable losing stretch.

What went right: The Avs erased a two-goal deficit to force overtime. Colorado had the better first period with 15 shots on goal and Nathan MacKinnon firing on all cylinders. He went top shelf on a breakaway in the third period for his 10th goal of the season. Defenseman Brad Hunt tied it up early in the third period. Defenseman Cale Makar won the game in OT.

What went wrong: A questionable interference penalty against Alex Newhook led to an Oilers goal (Zach Hyman) in the first period; erasing a strong Avalanche start to the night. Then Edmonton added another power play goal in the second (Hyman, again), with Colorado losing a coach's challenge for goalie interference. The Avalanche committed six penalties on the night. They also failed to generate scoring over three power play chances. 

Between the pipes: Avalanche starting goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 28-of-30 saves and was dominant over the final moments of regulation and overtime. Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner stopped 42 of Colorado’s 45 shots on goal.

Injury updates: Forward Evan Rodrigues (upper body) returned after a two-game absence. Forward Dennis Malgin (upper body) missed Saturday’s game in Edmonton. Forward Val Nichushkin (ankle) traveled with the team but did not play on their two-game road trip.

What’s next: The Avalanche (19-16-3) host the Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (Altitude TV) at Ball Arena.

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