The Colorado Avalanche beat the Detroit Red Wings, 5-1, on the road Saturday afternoon. Here are three takeaways from the victory.
Back in the day, kids, the Avalanche and Red Wings had arguably the best rivalry in sports. Legendary playoff games with blood on the ice. But a lot has changed since the 90s. They no longer play in the same division, and lately, the series is especially one-sided. The Avs’ road win Saturday marked their 10th consecutive victory over Detroit; tied for the longest streak against any opponent in franchise history.
Colorado is humming, winners of five straight, at just the right time. The Avalanche are within striking distance of the Central Division title with 86 points, and critical matchups upcoming against Minnesota (March 29) and Dallas (April 1). Their remaining games are against mostly non-playoff teams. It all sets up well for a strong push toward the postseason.
Nathan MacKinnon is playing hockey like a man possessed. Is anyone really surprised?
The game turned late in the second period when a patented MacKinnon breakaway rush finished with a goal. It marked a new impressive milestone: MacKinnon has collected five 30-goal seasons with the Avalanche. That’s tied with Milan Hejduk for the second most in Avalanche history (since relocating to Colorado in 1995-96). They trail only Joe Sakic (six).
MacKinnon added two assists in Detroit. He’s up to 88 points on the season.
The Avalanche hoped to receive good injury news during their four-game road trip with injured forward Darren Helm (lower body) joining the team through Canada and Detroit. But Helm did not re-enter the lineup. He hasn’t played since mid-January when he reaggravated an injury that held him out several months to begin the season.
Coach Jared Bednar did not update Helm's status during his postgame comments with reporters in Detroit.
Avalanche 5, Red Wings 1
What happened: Colorado extended its winning streak to five games and swept their East Coast road swing.
What went right: The Avalanche opened the afternoon with a sequence of perfect puck movement, leading to a Devon Toews goal. A one-timer from deep, assisted by JT Compher and Cale Makar, marked Toews’ fifth goal of the year. And the goals kept coming. Twice in the second period from Nathan MacKinnon and Bowen Byram (power play). Two more in the third from Lars Eller (shorthanded) and Mikko Rantanen. A total of 11 different Colorado players recorded at least one point. Makar (three assists) and MacKinnon (one goal/two assists) each had three-point performances.
What went wrong: Colorado held on to a one-goal lead for less than two minutes when Detroit tied it up when Pius Suter ripped a shot through traffic. Andrew Cogliano left in the third period with an apparent injury and did not return. It is not expected to be significant, coach Jared Bednar told reporters in Detroit.
Between the pipes: Alexandar Georgiev made 33-of-34 saves. Detroit’s Ville Husso stopped 16 of Colorado’s 21 shots on goal. He was replaced by Magnus Hellberg in the third period. He made 2-of-2 saves.
What’s next: The Avalanche (40-22-6) host the Chicago Blackhawks, 7 p.m. Monday (Altitude) at Ball Arena.