DENVER– Solid early play combined with one exceptional period carried the Colorado Avalanche past Edmonton. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist as part of Colorado’s three-goal flurry early in the third, and the Avalanche went on to beat the Oilers 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Nazem Kadri, Logan O’Connor and Matt Nieto also scored for the Avalanche, who unleashed a season-high 50 shots on goal. The Oilers had 30 fewer shots, getting their lone goal from Jujhar Khaira.
“We found a way to get a spark in the third,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “We played a real good period to win the game. We stuck with it. We didn’t have a great start, but (were) able to stick with it and have faith to keep playing our game and execute the game plan, and to be able to create enough chances to win.”
The game was tied at 1 and Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen had frustrated Colorado’s offense, turning away one shot after another, before the Avalanche finally broke through in the final period during a 2:32 span.
“It was just a great example of the team sticking with it,” Nieto said. “We weren’t happy with the way we played against them in Edmonton (a 6-2 loss on Nov. 14), so to be able to win this one was big.”
At 3:05 of the third, Nieto scored off a cross-ice pass from MacKinnon to give the Avalanche their first lead. Just more than a minute later, Ian Cole wristed a shot that went in and out of Koskinen’s glove, and MacKinnon swept into the crease to knock in the rebound.
O’Connor capped the surge at 5:37 with a backhand that beat Koskinen for his first NHL goal. Valeri Nichushkin set up O’Connor by digging out a loose puck from behind the net and passing it to him in front.
“Koski played an unbelievable game and held us in the whole way through and we let him down in the third period,” Edmonton defenseman Darnell Nurse said.
“It’s as simple as that. There’s some points in the year you’re going to be down a few guys on the bench and you’ve got to battle through that. We didn’t tonight.”
The Avalanche couldn’t score during a five-minute power play, including two minutes when they had a 5-on-3 advantage due to a tripping penalty on Leon Draisaitl before tying it 1-all on Kadri’s goal at 10:50 of the second. Edmonton’s Adam Larsson drew a five-minute major for elbowing T.J. Tynan in the head to set up the power play.
Kadri mounted a rush down center ice and wristed a shot from the middle of the right circle that the zoomed into the net under Koskinen’s glove.
Khaira opened the scoring in the first period.