The Predators got a pair of power-play goals from Matt Duchene – one in the third period and one in overtime – to earn a 5-4 victory over the Avalanche on Tuesday. The loss snapped Colorado’s five-game winning streak, and all five were come-from-behind victories. Duchene played nine years for the Avalanche, and his 178 goals with the team puts him ninth in franchise history.
Luke Kunin also had two goals for Nashville, while the Avalanche got goals from four different players. Nashville is now 12-1-1 in its last 14 games and leads the way in the Western Conference standings. It was only the second loss for Colorado in its last 12 games, both of which have come against Nashville.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s contest:
Makar Making Noise
Cale Makar hasn’t played in as many games as some of the favorites to win the Norris Memorial Trophy as the game’s top defenseman, but it’s starting to look like the other guys needed the head start. Makar tallied a goal and an assist on Tuesday, giving him 16 goals and 34 points on the season. Makar has tallied three goals and four assists in his last five games.
Despite playing in only 29 games this season, and is now fourth in scoring amongst defensemen. All three of the blue liners in front of him – the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox, and Nashville’s Roman Josi – have all played in at least six more games than Makar. The Avalanche star also leads all defensemen in goals.
Makar’s goal on Tuesday was an important one, as he evened up the game at 4-4 with just 6:41 left in regulation. It was the third time in the game that Colorado erased a Nashville lead. After Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Andre Burakovsky tied it at 2-2 in the second, Kunin’s second goal gave Nashville a 3-2 edge entering the third. Nathan MacKinnon’s’ sixth of the year wiped out that lead. Duchene’s first made it 4-3 midway through the third, setting things up for Makar – who also assisted on the goals by MacKinnon and Aube-Kubel.
Aube-Kubel Heats Up
For a guy that was scooped off the waiver wire in November, Nicolas Aube-Kubel is starting to turn into a pretty good option for the Avalanche. He scored Colorado’s first goal on Tuesday, and added an assist, giving him three goals in the last two games after he scored a pair on Monday to lead the Avs to a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. It was his first multi-goal game of his career.
After starting his time in Colorado on the fourth line, he’s worked to earn more minutes. Now on the third line with the likes of Alex Newhook, Logan O’Connor and J.T. Compher, things are starting to click. Aube-Kubel has 11 points on the season, which is just four points off his career high of 15 from the 2019-20 campaign, when he also scored a career-best seven goals. His goal on Tuesday game him five this season.
Aube-Kubel was picked up by the Avalanche on Nov. 13 after the Philadelphia Flyers waived the 25-year-old forward. He’s played in 20 games for Colorado this season, and is starting to find his footing. He’s recorded a point in three straight games, and four of his last five contests. His career-long points streak came in 2019-20, when he registered a point in five consecutive games.
Burakovsky Returns to Goal-Scoring Form
Burakovsky was flying high after scoring his first career hat trick back on Dec. 12. But he hadn’t lit the lamp since, until Tuesday. Burakovsky scored Colorado’s second goal against Nashville, helping erase an early two-goal deficit. It also erased a six-game funk without a goal. Tuesday’s goal gave him 13 on the season, tying him with Nazem Kadri for fourth on the team.
Even though Burakovsky hadn’t scored a goal in his previous six games entering Tuesday, he was still contributing. The 26-year-old forward piled up six assists over that stretch. He has seven goals and six assists over his last 12 games, and that’s including the six games without a goal. Burakovsky has been a pretty consistent contributor all season, as his longest streak without a point is four games, and those were all back in October.
Burakovsky’s consistency has helped Colorado all season. He missed a couple of games due to COVID-19 protocols, but with him in the lineup, the Avalanche haven’t lost in regulation since Dec. 1. Even with the league’s brief hiatus in December, that’s no small streak as Colorado 11-0-2 with Burakovsky in the lineup during that span.
Colorado’s next two contests are both against the Arizona Coyotes this weekend, as the Avs host Arizona on Friday and travel to Glendale, Ariz. on Saturday.
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.