Takeaways from the Avalanche’s 4-1 Triumph Over the Kings

The Colorado Avalanche topped the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Sunday afternoon, winning their third straight contest while again playing like a Stanley Cup contender. Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, and Dan Renouf each tallied two points for the Avs, who now have 34 points on the season and moved into third in the Honda West Division.

Nazem Kadri Colorado Avalanche
Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Avalanche outshot the Kings 41-28, with 20 of those coming in the first period. LA goalie Cal Petersen stood tall for the second straight game but was again outdueled by Philipp Grubauer. Colorado withstood a second-period flurry from the Kings to stay ahead, and would eventually pull away with goals from Joonas Donskoi and Nathan MacKinnon to earn a convincing win. Here’s what stood out:

Kadri Brings the Heat

Colorado’s second line was excellent on Sunday afternoon, with center Nazem Kadri leading the way. He opened the scoring in the first period with a highlight-reel effort the Avs desperately needed. The team was once again peppering the opposing net, and once again getting held off the scoresheet thanks to bad fortune and outstanding goaltending. But Kadri would not be denied, flying through the offensive zone, putting the moves on Kings’ defenseman Tobias Bjornfot, and ripping the puck top shelf:

It was the exact high-level finish the Avalanche needed to help them start to break their goal-scoring slump. But Kadri wasn’t done. Midway through the second frame, he received the puck deep in the offensive zone from Brandon Saad. The centerman then whipped the puck to Andre Burakovsky in the slot, who buried it on the backhand to double the Avs’ advantage.

Throughout the game, Kadri played as a man possessed. Despite not showing up on the scoresheet quite as often as he’s capable of, he has started to be more and more noticeable as the season goes on. Playing with momentum, he could be a big factor for the Avalanche going forward.

Gru-power

Coming off a shutout of the Kings on Friday night, Grubauer stayed sharp in his latest start. The German netminder turned aside 27 Kings’ shots and was only beaten by a screened shot point shot six minutes into the third period. It was his 15th win of the season, as results continue to pile up as his workload increases.

Unlike Friday, Grubauer had to remain sharp to keep his team ahead at the end of the first period and for a good portion of the second. Los Angeles had multiple power-play chances and started to establish a solid forecheck and cycle game that was wearing down the Avalanche defense. As Petersen continued to keep the score close on his end, Grubauer had to go save-for-save with him. The 23-minute stretch between the first and second Colorado goals was some of the goalie’s best play of the season, a season in which he’s posted plenty of great stretches already.

Philipp Grubauer Colorado Avalanche
Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If Grubauer can remain healthy and consistent for the rest of the year, the Avalanche should think hard about what an extension on his contract might look like. Jacob Markstrom signed a six-year, $6 million deal with the Calgary Flames last offseason, and Jordan Binnington followed suit recently by signing his own 6×6 with the St. Louis Blues. Grubauer’s agent will likely use those as comparables for his client, which would be a steep price for an Avalanche team that also needs to extend Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar. But good goaltending is the most valuable commodity in the NHL, and Colorado needs it if they’re going to reach the lofty standards they’ve set for themselves. It’s certainly a situation to keep an eye on.

But for now, the Avs roll on. They will host the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, March 16.


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