The home-ice advantage for the Colorado Avalanche is starting to look almost impenetrable. Even when it takes longer than usual.
The Avs racked up their 15th consecutive home win, edging the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime on Saturday. Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored the game-winner in OT, and Colorado scored two power-play goals in regulation to push its record at Ball Arena to 17-2-1 on the season. The Avs have not lost in regulation in 2022, going 10-0-1 in January. During the current home winning streak, the Avalanche hold a +39 goal differential.
Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s victory:
Avalanche Captain Comes Thorugh
Landeskog went through a rare blip where he didn’t score a point in back-to-back games, but he snapped the mini-scoring slump in a big way on Saturday. The Avs captain took a great pass from Valeri Nichushkin to bury the overtime winner against the Canadiens early in the overtime session. It was his 15th goal of the season.
Landeskog didn’t register a point in Colorado’s previous two games – marking only the second time this season he’d gone back-to-back games without a point. Before those previous two games, Landeskog piled up a 16-game point streak where he totaled eight goals and 15 assists. Saturday’s goal was his seventh career game-winning goal in overtime.
Nichushkin assisted on the game-winner, but the Avalanche don’t even get to overtime without him. He scored Colorado’s second goal, netting his 11th of the season on the power play in the second period. The goal put Nichushkin just three goals away from his career-high of 14 set in his rookie campaign in 2013-14. The multi-point game was Nichushkin’s fourth of the season. He had only five multi-point games over the previous three seasons combined.
Colorado Defensemen Keep Piling Up Points
Cale Makar gets a lot of attention – and rightfully so – as Colorado’s high-scoring quarterback at the blue line, but Devon Toews and Samuel Girard showed that they’re not too shabby back there, either. Toews assisted on all three Avalanche goals on Saturday, and Girard delivered two fantastic assists to set up a pair of power-play goals in the victory.
The three assists gave Toews 23 on the season, which is a career-high. The fourth-year defenseman had 22 helpers in each of the last two seasons. Saturday marked the sixth time this season that he had at least two assists. Toews also had three assists in a win over the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 10. He had one three-assist game last season – his first with the Avalanche – but never hit that mark in a game in either of his two seasons with the New York Islanders. He’s on pace for a career year, even if he might be sitting in Makar’s shadow.
Girard is no stranger to assists or multi-point games, but Makar usually sucks up the bulk of the time on the power-play. Entering Saturday’s game, Girard had only three helpers with the man advantage through his first 36 games of the season. It was the fifth multi-point game for Girard this season, and first since he had a couple of assists in an overtime loss to Nashville on Jan. 11. Girard’s career-high for points in a season is 34 in 2019-20. He also had a career-best 30 assists that season, and he could threaten both of those numbers this campaign. Through 37 games this season, Girard has four goals and 19 assists.
Newhook Gets Back On Track
Alex Newhook’s development has been pretty steady, but the 20-year-old forward needed a spark. He got it in the first period on Saturday, scoring the opening goal with a great one-timer on the power play. The goal was his ninth of the season, and Newhook is starting to emerge as a great part of Colorado’s vaunted depth scoring corps. He’s tied with Nathan MacKinnon for seventh on the team in goals.
Newhook had only two points, a goal, and an assist, over his previous nine appearances entering Saturday. He also had four shots on target against Montreal – matching a career-high he’s hit four other times this season – and they were a welcome return. Newhook didn’t have a shot on target in either of his last two appearances, which were road wins for the Avs against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.
Closing in on double-digit goals in his first season, Newhook has had to do it without a lot of consistency. He’s played at least 10 minutes with six different line combinations this season and was playing alongside Logan O’Connor and J.T. Compher on Saturday. Newhook’s tally was the first of the season for that line combination, who were playing in their sixth game together. Colorado will try to keep its home winning streak rolling as they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.