TORONTO — Without the benefit of a power play and after trailing for the first time in 10 games — briefly — the Avalanche used comeback hockey Monday to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs and stretch its remarkable winning streak to 10 games. The NHL's ...and more »
TORONTO — Without the benefit of a power play and after trailing for the first time in 10 games — briefly — the Avalanche used comeback hockey Monday to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs and stretch its remarkable winning streak to 10 games.
The NHL’s most surprising story continues to be written by the team that finished a distant last in 2016-17.
Colorado got its first two goals from depth forwards at Air Canada Centre and the game winner from second-line winger Blake Comeau with 7:43 left in regulation. On the counter-attack, Comeau and Carl Soderberg worked a give-and-go to perfection, with Comeau tapping in Soderberg’s centering pass on the doorstep of Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson.
The goal broke a 2-2 tie and Colorado went on to win 4-2 after captain Gabe Landeskog scored an empty-netter in the final minute. Goalie Jonathan Bernier made 29 saves in his ninth consecutive victory.
“I’m happy because we played the same way on the road tonight as we have been playing at home,” said Avs coach Jared Bednar, whose team was beginning a stretch that has it on the road for 13 of 16 games. “And we were able to fight back a little bit.”
Colorado completes a consecutive-night stretch Tuesday at Montreal. Avs defenseman Mark Barberio grew up a Canadiens fan in that city.
“It’s been a really fun run and has kind of taken on a life of its own,” Barberio said of the 10-game streak. “I think we’re just playing the right way out there. We’re not forcing things. We’re staying above pucks. We continue to play sharp defensively and continue to be opportunistic. We have a chance every game at winning. The biggest thing is, we all really believe that.”
The Avs struck first for the 10th consecutive game but trailed 2-1 for 1:34 midway through the second period until Nail Yakopov tied if off a great pass on the attack by linemate Alex Kerfoot.
“To be honest, it felt a little weird,” Landeskog said of trailing. “When they scored to take the lead 2-1, there was no panic. I liked what I saw from our group. We just kept playing and obviously Kerf and Yak did a great job of getting us back on the board there, and then we just kept grinding and were patient.”
The Leafs didn’t commit a penalty and failed to convert on three power-play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:11 midway through the first period.
“We should have won the game,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said in a brief postgame press conference. “We played good enough, generated enough chances. They scored (in the third period) and we didn’t.”
BOX SCORE: Avalanche 4, Maple Leafs 2
It was 2-2 after two periods. Depth forwards Gabriel Bourque and Yakupov scored for Colorado and Patrick Marleau and Auston Matthews struck for the Leafs. Bourque gave the Avs a 1-0 lead after the first period and Marleau and Matthews scored consecutively in the second as Colorado briefly was on its heels.
Just 94 seconds after Matthews’ goal, Kerfoot picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and made a great play to set up Yakupov’s one-time blast from the right circle. In addition to the goal, the Avs had shots carom off iron from Mikko Rantanen and Soderberg. And Toronto had a goal disallowed — by Matthews — after Colorado won a coach’s challenge, accusing Matthews of interfering with Jonathan Bernier’s ability to make the save.
Matthews, the generational talent from Arizona, came back and scored his goal on the next shift.
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon saw his nine-game point streak end Monday.
The Avs’ three-game trip continues Tuesday at snowy Montreal. It concludes Thursday at St. Louis.
Climbing the ranks
Prior to beginning its 10-game winning streak Dec. 29 with an overtime home victory over the Maple Leafs, the Colorado Avalanche was four games out of the playoffs for the final wild-card spot. The Avs now own the final wild-card playoff spot with 57 points:
Western Conference playoff standings entering Dec. 29
Western Conference playoff standings today
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