Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said before the game that he did not see tonight’s game against the Blue Jackets as a trap game with another game looming 24 hours later. After a slow start in the first period, his club got a lead late in the first period and never looked back.
David Jones scored a pair of goals (his 13th and 14th of the season), Semyon Varlamov continued his hot streak of late making 28 saves and the Avalanche cruised to their third win in four games by a 5-0 final. A lively crowd of 16,925 at Nationwide Arena was ready to roll as the game got under way, but a quick start to the third period by Colorado made the deficit too much to overcome.
The game was bizarre getting going, simply because of the bevy of chances that were exchanged before the Avalanche opened the scoring. Columbus had early opportunities to crack Varlamov, but he stood tall and got a fortunate break as Colton Gillies hit the crossbar late in the first period. Jones took off the other way and scored on a 2-on-1 to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 19:34. It was a tough way to end the opening period for the Blue Jackets, who got more chances as the period progressed.
Rookie Gabriel Landeskog pushed the Avalanche lead to 2-0 at 11:56 of the second period, firing a slap shot from the right circle over Steve Mason’s glove hand and under the crossbar. Mark Olver centered to a wide-open Jones in the slot early in the third period, and the Dartmouth product made no mistake in scoring his second of the night for a 3-0 advantage.
Steve Downie scored his first goal as a member of the Avalanche at 6:55 of the third period and Matt Hunwick tallied his first goal of the year on a breakaway at 13:19 of the final stanza.
The Blue Jackets were right in the thick of this game in the second period, and trailing 2-0, got a great shift from the top line of R.J. Umberger, Derick Brassard and Rick Nash to build some momentum. Brassard picked off a centering pass in his own zone, and hit Nash with a home-run pass at 15:36 of the second period – Nash was in behind Colorado defenseman Jan Hejda, but Varlamov made a big save to keep his team up 2-0.
The Blue Jackets allowed the first goal of the game for the 35th time this season. The club is now 6-26-3 in those games, while going 3-18-2 when trailing after the first period and 2-24-2 when trailing after two periods.
Columbus is now 9-29-4 all-time against Colorado, including a 6-14-2 mark at Nationwide Arena.
Brassard had this three-game point streak snapped. He collected 2-2-4 during that stretch.
Colton Gillies had a game-high four hits on the night. He added one blocked shot in 10:37 of ice time.
James Wisniewski had a game-high four shots on goal. His 24:00minutes of ice time also was a game high. He entered the night ranked 15th (tied) in the NHL in time on ice average (24:45).
vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
CONSOL Energy Center | Pittsburgh, PA
Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: CD102.5 FM & BlueJackets.com