Visiting Avalanche score a weird one to beat the Senators 5-4

OTTAWA — Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists and Lars Eller scored a bizarre winner as the Colorado Avalanche won their fourth straight game with a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Colorado defenceman Cale Makar had a goal and an assist while Valeri Nichushkin and Evan Rodrigues chipped in with a goal apiece. Nathan MacKinnon notched three assists for the Avalanche (39-22-6) and goaltender Jonas Johansson stopped 31 shots.

Drake Batherson, Shane Pinto, Travis Hamonic and Brady Tkachuk scored for the Senators (33-31-4), who dropped their fourth straight. Tim Stutzle had three assists and Mads Sogaard made 25 saves in the Sens net.

The Senators, who were coming of a long western road trip, came out sluggish. The Avalanche registered the game’s first seven shots and led 2-0 before Ottawa recorded their first shot almost eight minutes into the game.

Makar opened the scoring at 2:35 with a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff dot, and then Nichushkin made it 2-0 on a power play at the five-minute mark.

Ottawa did have 12 of the final 15 shots of the period and were rewarded with a power-play goal as Batherson redirected a slap pass from Tim Stutzle with 27 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

The Avalanche scored three times in the second period, including a very strange goal, to take a 5-2 lead.

After Rantanen gave the Avalanche a 3-1 lead at 4:23, Pinto drew the Senators back to within a goal at 3-2 eight minutes into the period. Rodrigues gave the Avalanche a 4-2 lead at 15:17, and then the weirdness happened.

On what the Senators appeared to think was an icing against the Avalanche, the puck bounced off the end boards and was in the corner of the crease by Sogaard’s pad. With Senators’ defenceman Jake Sanderson standing next to his netminder, no whistle came to end the play. After a couple of seconds, Eller skated in and jammed the puck past a confused group of Senators at 18:09.

After a lengthy review on a goaltender interference challenge from Senators coach DJ Smith, the goal stood.

Hamonic scored at 2:52 of the third period and then Tkachuk scored on the power play at 13:18 to pull the Senators to within a goal at 5-4, but they got no closer — thanks to a game-saving acrobatic stop by Johansson with five seconds to play.

NOTES — Thursday was the second and last of two meetings this season between the Senators and Avalanche. The Avalanche were 7-0 winners at home back on Jan. 14 … The Senators recalled forward Ridly Greig from the Belleville Senators … Avalanche defenceman Devon Toews appeared in his 300th career NHL game Wednesday … The Senators were 2-4 on the power play while the Avalanche went 1-3.

UP NEXT — Both teams are off until Saturday when the Avalanche will conclude their four-game road trip with a visit to the Detroit Red Wings. They will host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. The Senators will host the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday and play the Penguins in Pittsburgh Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mach 16, 2023.

Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press