Avalanche Fight Back for Critical 5–4 OT Win Over Ducks

Avalanche Fight Back for Critical 5–4 OT Win Over Ducks
Anaheim Ducks center Isac Lundestrom (21) defends against Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., on April 9, 2023. (Ashley Landis/AP Photo)
The Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Nathan MacKinnon scored his second power-play goal of the game with 44.3 seconds left on the clock in overtime, and the Colorado Avalanche rallied for a 5–4 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night, April 9.

Mikko Rantanen had two goals and two assists, and J.T. Compher also scored to help Colorado move two points ahead of Dallas atop the Central Division. The Stars hold the potential tiebreaker with more regulation wins, which made MacKinnon’s one-timer from the left circle in the extra period that much more important.

“Well, it’s a good spot to be in with three games left or whatever, but there’s still work to be done because we’ve seen the standings flip flop all year long,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.

Pavel Francouz made 19 saves in his first start in nearly two months. He had not played since Feb. 7 because of a lower-body injury.

Frank Vatrano had two goals, Adam Henrique and Brett Leason also scored, and the Ducks picked up a second point in two nights to give up ground in the race for the NHL’s worst record and the best odds to win the draft lottery. Lukas Dostal allowed five goals on 46 shots.

“Our guys are full of fire,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “They’re working hard for each other, and they’re trying to support each other, and they’ve competitive people.”

Colorado squandered a two-goal lead in the second period before rallying back from a two-goal deficit in the third. Rantanen reached 100 points on the season when he cut it to 4–3 on the power play midway through the period, and MacKinnon’s one-timer with the man advantage tied it up 4–4 with 4:32 remaining.

“If you’re drawing penalties, you have your top five guys on the ice at one time and they can start feeling it. Eventually, I think, skilled players and talented players are going to find a way to break through,” Bednar said.

Anaheim scored twice in a 2:07 span of the third, going in front 3–2 on Vatrano’s wrist shot through traffic at 5:18 and making it 4–2 when Leason scored off the rush.

Eakins was pleased with the spirit on display coming to the end of a disheartening season, and not just from the youngsters that the Ducks hope will be cornerstones for years to come.

“Our veteran players, a guy like Frankie has a career year in points,” Eakins said. “Cam Fowler, career year in points. (Henrique) comes back, he’s got 20 (goals) again. ...There’s a lot of good going on, quietly, that is really going to pay off for the future.”

That seemed like it might be enough to punish the Avalanche, but Colorado’s power play eventually was able to make up for a wasteful start. They failed to cash in on two lengthy 5-on-3 looks and a double minor against Derek Grant for high sticking in the first period.

The Avalanche ended up 3 for 8 on the power play.

“Their power play is deadly,” Eakins said. “They’ve got some really super high-end talent. ...You give them that many cracks on a power play, they’re gonna get you sooner or later.”

Road Tripping

Colorado won its 10th straight road game, their longest run since leaving Quebec after the 1994–95 season. Five of those wins have come in California, with the Avalanche having racked up 11 consecutive wins in the Golden State.
NOTES: Ducks D Drew Helleson made his NHL debut. He was a second-round draft pick by Colorado in 2019 and sent to Anaheim last year as part of the trade for D Josh Manson. ...Avalanche D Bowen Byram (illness) missed his second straight game. ...Ducks F Max Comtois is out for the final three games of the season because of an upper-body injury.

Up Next

Avalanche: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.

Ducks: Host Vancouver on Tuesday night.

By Dan Greenspan