Hockey fans were in attendance at Ball Arena for the first time in more than a year Wednesday night, and the Avalanche was undoubtedly jazzed about it and ready to perform in its 21st home game of the season.
The Avs came out flying and attacked the Arizona Coyotes with a relentless effort that netted five goals in the first 7 minutes, 31 seconds of the game. Winger Joonas Donskoi scored three of those goals, producing the quickest hat trick in club history and the first three-goal period since Tomas Fleischmann scored three in the third period on Dec. 15, 2010 at Chicago.
The fast-and-furious start fizzled but the Avs regained their magic with a three-goal third period and skated off with a 9-3 victory before frontline staff, health care providers, first responders and selected others. A maximum of 4,050 regular fans will be welcomed for Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
The victory extended Colorado’s points streak to 12 games (10-0-2). And the Avs finished 12-2-3 in March to set club records for wins and points (27) in a month and tie the record for fewest games to reach 50 points in a season (35).
Goalie Philipp Grubauer, who allowed a goal on Arizona’s first shot, finished with 24 saves for his NHL-leading 22nd win. Avs left wing Gabe Landeskog and right winger Mikko Rantanen each had three points, one behind Donskoi. Landeskog scored twice and Rantanen had two assists.
Forwards Andre Burakovsky and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare also scored as the Avs built a 5-1 lead through the first 7:16. Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, however, scored late in the first period and Arizona forward Conor Garland struck late in the second as the visitors got within two at 5-3.
Landeskog scored an unassisted goal just 21 seconds after Garland to get Colorado back up by three heading into the third. Rantanen scored a power-play at 6:05 of the third period to put the Avs back up by four and Landeskog tacked on one at 11:57 for Colorado’s third eight-goal game of the year.
Goalie Adin Hill started for Arizona but stopped just six-of-10 shots before getting pulled at 6:04. He was replaced by Ivan Prosvetov, who made his NHL debut and allowed Donskoi’s third goal 1:27 later.
The Avs improved to 5-1-1 against Arizona, with the eighth and final meeting between the teams April 12 at Ball Arena.
Footnotes. Donskoi lost the steel blade to his left skate early in the second period, forcing him to hop on one leg to the bench. … Avalanche rookie teenage defenseman Bo Byram missed his third consecutive game with a head injury. But coach Jared Bednar said Byram, 19, skated on his own Tuesday and Wednesday and might be cleared for the weekend home games against the St. Louis Blues. “I still consider him day-to-day. I don’t know when he’s going to go exactly. I guess we’ll probably know a little bit more (Thursday) if he’s going to be an option for us in the weekend games,” the coach said. “But he is making progress.”
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