VANCOUVER — During two games in less than a week against the Vancouver Canucks, the Avalanche used a 62.5% power play to sweep the set. Colorado was 3-for-5 on the man-advantage in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory at Rogers Place after going 2-for-3 in last Thursday’s 7-1 triumph at Ball Arena.
Five takeaways from Wednesday’s win to begin a two-game road trip:
Kuemper. Goalie Darcy Kuemper was unquestionably one of the Avs’ best players and seems to be settling in with his new club. If it weren’t for a handful of great goaltending moments late in the first period and most of the second, Vancouver might have had five goals.
The Canucks outshot Colorado 11-4 to close the first period and 15-7 in the second.
“I loved him tonight. I think he’s getting better and better every night,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Kuemper, who has victories in five of his last six starts. “Definitely seems to have turned a corner and really elevated his play when we needed him most.”
Kuemper’s second goal-against early in the third period was a fluke, with the puck caroming in off him after a weak shot from the point pin-balled towards him. Still, he hasn’t allowed more than two goals in each of his last three starts.
Makar. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar logged a team-high 24:21 and had the game-winning goal, a one-time slap shot off a feed from Devon Toews during the game’s final power play. It was Makar’s ninth career GWG, the most of any NHL defenseman since he began his career in 2019-20.
Makar is just 23 years old. But his nine GWG are already tied for fifth among all-time Avalanche defensemen, behind Tyson Barrie (18), Erik Johnson (12), Sandis Ozolinsh (11) and Rob Blake (10).
Kadri. Avs second-line center Nazem Kadri had the game-tying power-play goal and also had two assists. His first helper extended his points streak to seven games, a stretch where he has produced 13 points (four goals).
Kadri is Colorado’s scoring leader with 17 points in playing all 13 games.
“It’s fun, for sure,” he said of his scoring surge. “I got to shout out my linemates and teammates; I’m playing with some great players. I just got to make the plays I’m capable of making. As an offensive player, when you’re hot, you’re hot. I’m kind of riding that wave right now and I understand it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride in terms of production through an 82-game season. But for now, I love where my game is at.”
5-1-1. In their last seven games, the Avs have points in six and collected 11 of a possible 14. They have made up for a 1-3 start and are in playoff position despite playing a Western Conference-low 13 games.
“I think we’re still moving in the right direction,” Kadri said. “We’re not quite there yet. But we’re only (13) games in. This isn’t the team we’re going to be two months from now. Obviously, we’ve hit some bumps in the road early and it’s really tested us … Now it’s time to turn it around.”
Minus MacKinnon. Colorado is 3-0 in star center Nathan MacKinnon’s latest absence, and 4-1 overall this season. MacKinnon, who is in the second week of an expected three-week absence with a lower-body injury, missed the first two games of the season with a positive COVID test.
The Avs continue to win without their top-line center.
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