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JT Compher’s face, which looked like ground hamburger, symbolized this victory. Sam Girard’s bandaged nose, tousled hair and mustache symbolized this victory. Jacob MacDonald, making good use of one of his few shifts in the game with a gutsy drive to the net for a free kick when it looked like they were down and out, epitomized the win for the Colorado Avalanche.

The win, a 3-2 overtime win over the Nashville Predators, symbolized the Avalanche’s recent toughness after so many injuries. To quote Mark Moser, this was another win in Nashville for “the whole place” again.

Trailing 2-0 after Matt Duchene’s second-period goal made it 21-10 in Nashville’s favor, the Avalanche could have been justified in packing up early and simply walking out of Bridgestone Arena; Haunted house in the last holiday game seasons.

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95) scores a goal against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexander Georgiev (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

But the avalanche gathered the will to fight back, and, wow, did they bring it after that? After Duchene’s goal, the Avalanche outscored the Predators 36-19 and clinched it on Girard’s OT goal, which put a puck the length of the ice by Evan Rodriguez, who fed Girard a cross and a one-timer. Preds tough goaltender Jose Saros.

It was the Avalanche’s fifth comeback in December.

“It would have been an easy night, going into the break, picking it up. But that’s not what our band is about,” Jared Bednar later told Altitude TV. “Being shorthanded, there were a lot of excuses they could make, but this was a group that worked hard to win hockey games. It was a great team effort and I’m pretty proud of them so far this season.”

I didn’t think much of the Avalanche’s chances after a terrible first 26 minutes. I don’t think even the most ardent, optimistic Avs fans could have had it. But it was like the Underdog taking his super energy pill after a Dutch goal. They just came at the Preds in wave after wave, getting goals from Mikko Rantanen (just under the post) and Komfer (on a tip-in from Arturi Lehkonen’s shot with just minutes left) to tie the game.

Colorado essentially started overtime with 49 seconds left on the power play, but it might have been their worst in two-plus periods. Just when it looked like it might go to a shootout, Rodriguez made a play similar to the one Rantanen had made to win the night before.

One bad note from the last two rounds. Valery Nichushkin lost another lower body injury. There is no update on his condition. Martin Kaut also left the game in the third and did not return.

Girard told Altitude TV about his goal. “It was a great game (by Rodriguez). It was a big two points for us. Points are important at this time of year, so we’ve just got to keep going.”

“I think we got some momentum from our power play and then we just started to turn it over and we got better rebounds from our forwards which allowed our D to stand up and started to create turnovers and lead to more. offensive momentum.”

In the third period, Nichushkin left the game with an injury and did not return. Nichushkin was returning to form after a lengthy layoff with the previous LBI, and now this. He didn’t seem to have the same speed after returning, and so it could be an injury that lingers.

These holiday games in Nashville were cursed for the Avalanche. Last year, Bo Byram took personal leave during a Christmas game trip and the Avalanche lost. I still remember the 2001 postseason game here, when the Avalanche played perhaps their worst game in another championship season. Their Thanksgiving game this season was postponed due to a water main break.

This one, however, had a happy ending.

Avalanche

Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) leaves the ice after the Colorado Avalanche won 3-2 in overtime in an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

SOME TAKEAWAY

  • Kale Makar has 50 shots on net this month, but only one goal.
  • Komfer got a bad cut after taking a couple of high sticks, leaving at one point for treatment in the third’s locker room. But he came back and played some inspired hockey, tying the game with that wonderful tip.
  • Rantanen scored 13 shots in the match. THIRTEEN. That’s the most of any NHL player this season.
  • MacDonald played just 4:33 on the night, but he had a major penalty in the second that helped derail his team’s lead.
  • Denis Malgin had three shots on net and one was robbed by Saros.
  • The Avalanche will have the next three weekends off before flying to Arizona for a game on the 27th.
  • Eric Johnson led the Avalanche with six hits.
  • Makar played the highest score of 30:08.
  • It was Girard’s first career goal.
  • Colorado came out of regulation for the third straight game, the first time the club has gone to overtime in three straight games, and won all three OT contests dating back to March 10-14, 2012.

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