The Colorado Avalanche are more than just a power-packed offense.
Nazem Kadri tallied two goals and an assist, and Philipp Grubauer stopped 21 shots for his second shutout of the season as the Avalanche dumped the San Jose Sharks 3-0 on Thursday. The win was coach Jared Bednar’s 150th with the team.
Following a blistering stretch where Colorado racked up 15 goals in the span of four periods, goals were hard to come by on Thursday. Nobody scored through the first two periods, but it wasn’t like Colorado was devoid of chances.
The Avalanche hit the post five times in the game, four times through the first two periods. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare dinged the post on a breakaway in the first, and Nathan MacKinnon, Joonas Donskoi and Bo Byram all drew iron in the second. Mikko Rantanen clanged a slap shot off the post in the third.
Kadri’s first goal opened the scoring midway through the third period, knocking a loose puck past San Jose goalie Devan Dubnyk and it took the lid off. Kadri set up Andre Burakovsky for his third of the season less than two minutes later, and Kadri tipped in his third of the season to cap the scoring with 1:06 to play. Kadri finished with 10 shots on goal in the win.
Cale Makar took the shot that Kadri tipped in for the final goal, giving the defenseman nine assists on the season. Makar leads all defensemen in points and hasn’t scored a goal yet this year. He also is second in the NHL in assists, trailing only Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar’s 11 helpers.
Colorado has won eight of their last nine home games dating back to last season. The only loss in that stretch was this season’s opener – a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 13.
Rantanen’s goal-scoring streak halted at six games. He was one away from the club record of seven games held by Joe Sakic.
Grubauer Stays Solid in Net
For all of the gaudy offensive numbers being put up by the likes of Rantanen and Makar, Grubauer has maybe been Colorado’s best player this season. He needed only 21 saves on Thursday, but he’s been sharp pretty much all season. Grubauer has started seven of Colorado’s eight games and is 5-2 on the year with a .928 save percentage (SV%) and a goals-against average (GAA) of 1.86.
Grubauer has been dominant against the Sharks his entire career. Thursday marked his eighth game against San Jose, and he’s now 5-1 with three shutouts. Against the Sharks, Grubauer now boasts a 1.74 (GAA) and .934 SV% for his career.
After giving up four goals in the opening night loss to St. Louis, Grubauer rattled off five consecutive periods without giving up a goal. He allowed two in the third period in the 3-2 win at the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 19 but has only allowed more than one goal in a period once since then. That happened in the third period of Tuesday’s 7-3 lambasting of the Sharks when the game was essentially decided.
Grubauer’s first shutout was Jan. 15 in an 8-0 win against St. Louis. He made 21 saves in that game, as well.
Avs Lose Bellemare to Injury
Bellemare was hurt midway through the first period on a collision with San Jose’s Ryan Donato. The two of them cracked knees together after Donato lost an edge, and Bellemare’s left knee bent awkwardly. The 35-year-old Avalanche forward immediately clutched his knee and had to be helped off the ice.
Bellemare had the best chance for either team in the first period, clanging a breakaway shot off the right post. The injury really stings the Avalanche on the penalty kill. Bellemare hasn’t scored a point this season but was a fixture on the ice when Colorado was a man down. Through the first seven games of the season, Bellemare logged an average of 2:21 on the penalty kill per night and won 70.6 percent of his faceoffs when the Avs were a man down.
He’d played in all eight games for the Avs, and the loss of him is amplified because the Avs were already without top penalty killer Matt Calvert – who has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.
Calvert is listed as day-to-day, but there is no timetable for his return. Bellemare’s injury will likely mean an extended period of time, as well, meaning players like Kiefer Sherwood – who has been sharp on the fourth line for Colorado while playing in Calvert’s stead – will get more ice time.
It also means players like Martin Kaut could potentially get a chance for more ice time, as well. Colorado’s next four games are against the Minnesota Wild, with four games over six days starting Saturday. The first two games are on the road this weekend, and then the Avalanche host the Wild for a pair next week.
This will be the first of just two times the Avalanche will face the same opponent four consecutive times this season. They’ll also face the Vegas Golden Knights four games in a row in mid-February.
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.