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Recap: Drouin propels Avs past Penguins in overtime

Mar 24, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) shoots and scores an overtime goal on Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic (39) and defenseman Kris Letang (58) at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

You just can’t make this stuff up. The Colorado Avalanche faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon. While Colorado would go down 4-0 in this game, it would ultimately be the Avs to storm all the way back and win this game 5-4 in overtime.

Let’s break down all the action from this afternoon!

First Period

It’s really impressive the rate at which Colorado gives up the first goal in any given game to be completely honest. After a completely lackluster power play from the Avs, it would be Jesse Puljujarvi who would get Pittsburgh on the board first. At the 7:53 mark in the first period, Sidney Crosby would throw a backhand towards the Colorado net. Both Reilly Smith and Puljujarvi were camped in front of the net and each took a couple of whacks at the puck, but it would ultimately be Puljujarvi who would bang it home.

Bryan Rust would then extend the Penguins’ lead to 2-0 not too long after the first goal. At the 15:11 mark in the first period, right after Rust was robbed on a grade-A chance by Alexandar Georgiev, Crosby got the puck to Rust in the neutral zone. From there, Rust just bulled his way to the front of the Avalanche net, and while Georgiev had planted his skate on the post to close the gap, Rust was able to elevate the puck up and over the edge of Georgiev’s skate.

Second Period

Well, Murphy’s Law was in full effect through just about the entirety of this period. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Colorado. At the 13:47 mark, Crosby would make it 3-1 in Pittsburgh’s favor. Valtteri Puustinen would come flying into the offensive zone and throw a puck toward the Avalanche net. Crosby would put just an absolutely unbelievable tip on the puck to elevate it up and over Georgiev’s mask and score. That’s certainly not something you see every day, what an unbelievable play.

When it rains it pours, and the Penguins were certainly content to keep pouring it on. At the 15:04 mark, Pierre Olivier-Joseph would extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-0. Olivier-Joseph simply threw a puck on net, a play that seemed innocent enough, but Georgiev wasn’t able to find it through a great screen, and Olivier-Joseph’s shot found its way to the back of the net.

As this team has shown multiple times this season, especially recently, Colorado wasn’t too keen on going quietly. At the 16:05 mark, Walker would get one back for Colorado. The Avs had gotten some momentum going in their offensive zone before this goal, and this play would start with Ross Colton collecting a puck behind the net and throwing it in front for either one of Miles Wood or Zach Parise to try and bury, as they were both camped out in front. The puck would miss both of them, however, and come up to Walker at the top of the zone. He had all sorts of time and space to work with, along with a great screen that was set in front, and his shot found its way into the net.

After Colorado finally broke through, you could honestly feel this next one coming. At the 19:03 mark, Yakov Trenin would get his first goal in an Avalanche uniform to make the score 4-2. Brandon Duhaime would start this play by simply ripping a puck on net. Trenin was in the right place at the right time, standing in front of the net setting a screen, and the puck hit him on the way in.

Third Period

The streak lives. At the 3:32 mark, Nathan MacKinnon would set up Jonathan Drouin with a cross-ice pass and Drouin would bury it to bring the Avs within one. MacKinnon would start this play by entering the zone down the wing and pulling up. At that point, the middle of the ice pretty much completely opened for MacKinnon to make a pass across to Drouin, and he wasn’t going to miss from there.

That MacKinnon and Drouin connection worked so well that they used it twice in this period, but they changed the script a little bit this time around. At the 15:22 mark in the third period, MacKinnon would tie the game at four for Colorado off of a cross-ice pass from Drouin. This play is a carbon copy of the third goal, but with Drouin being the one to fly down the wing to enter the zone, pull up, and find MacKinnon with a cross-ice pass. And similarly to Drouin, MacKinnon is not missing from there.

Overtime

Have yourself a day, Drouin. Just 0:54 into this overtime period, he would complete the comeback for Colorado. This goal ultimately starts in the neutral zone, where Drouin would pass the puck off to Cale Makar. Drouin would then build up speed through the neutral zone, and Makar would get the puck back to him as he came flying into the offensive zone. From there, Drouin just bulled his way past a Penguins player to the front of the net, had the presence of mind to outwait Alex Nedeljkovic, and buried the game-winning goal.

Yeti Takeaways

First off, yes, Colorado is one of the best teams in the entire NHL when it comes to comeback wins this season, but going down 4-0 to start this game is not great, make no mistake about that. As we’re gearing up for the playoffs, if you end up down 4-0 to whoever your first-round matchup is going to be, you’re probably not winning that game. Not that the Avs can’t win games like that, but in the playoffs, the margin for error is going to be razor-thin, and every single team in the playoffs is going to have the ability to make a push for a comeback and lock it down in games like the one, depending on what side of that scenario any given team might be on.

However, what we saw today was another prime example of this team’s resilience and championship pedigree. Once the Avs ended up down 4-0, you could kind of feel the frustration just waiting to boil over, and yet, it didn’t in this game. Instead, Colorado kept at it and got two goals before heading into the third period, and ultimately completing the comeback fully in overtime. That kind of composure is what stands out quite a bit, because not every team has that kind of composure and can muster a multi-goal comeback, especially from a deficit of that caliber. That tenacity cannot go unnoticed in games like this, because if this Avalanche team is lacking that element, they probably won’t make a comeback bid in this game, or in similar games from earlier this season for that matter.

Oh, and Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin both absolutely rule. MacKinnon ended with a three-point night, bringing his point total on the season to 122, and setting the new record for most points in a single season in Colorado Avalanche history. Drouin also had a three-point night, and obviously ended up with the game-winning goal. As games have ramped up more as we get closer to the playoffs, especially against playoff-caliber opponents, Drouin has more than held his own in those environments. Ultimately, Colorado officially looks like a problem for the rest of the NHL, and that’s exactly what you want as we head down the stretch to the playoffs.

Next on the Mountain

Colorado continues their homestand on Tuesday as they take on the Montreal Canadiens. The puck will drop at 7:00 p.m. MST.

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