3 Takeaways From the Avalanche’s 3-2 Win Over the Golden Knights

The Colorado Avalanche looked to snap a two-game winless streak as they skated into T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night to take on the Vegas Golden Knights. Colorado was coming off an overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night and a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Friday. The Avalanche were outshot 38-20 on Friday night and looked very little like the team that won the Stanley Cup just four months ago. Seeking to redeem themselves, the club entered the contest against the Golden Knights—the second of back-to-back games—with a sense of urgency.

Colorado came out strong in the first period, with 20 shot attempts in the first 10 minutes compared to four for Vegas. While Vegas did battle back in the second and third periods, outshooting the Avalanche 35-25 on the night and 14-4 in the third, it wasn’t enough, and the Avalanche won the game in regulation 3-2.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Avalanche Power Play Firing on All Cylinders

Colorado entered the evening having scored on seven of 15 power play opportunities, good for a 46.7% conversation rate, which led the league. They added to those totals against Vegas, going two for two, and improving their overall power play effectiveness to 52.9%, far and away the best in the NHL to this point in the young season.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The first power-play goal (PPG) came from Nathan MacKinnon 5:38 into the first period. MacKinnon now has at least one point in five of Colorado’s six games. The second goal with the man advantage came from second-line forward Evan Rodrigues, who scored his second goal of the season and scored for the second consecutive night.

Avalanche Still Searching for Production From Bottom-Six

Colorado’s top line has performed as expected to this point in the season.

PlayerGoals
(Thru 6 Games)
AssistsTotal Points
Nathan MacKinnon369
Mikko Rantanen369
Artturi Lehkonen235

The second line—Rodrigues, Alex Newhook, and Valeri Nichushkin—has been carried almost entirely by Nichushkin. The Russian-born right winger has 11 of the second line’s 13 points with the other two coming on Rodrigues’ goals. Alex Newhook has yet to collect a point. Newhook was moved to the second line in the wake of Nazem Kadri’s departure from the team and will need to perform better to hold onto that spot.

Related: Avalanche’s Nichushkin Delivering on Huge Contract Extension

The 11 points in six games for Nichushkin, including a goal against the Golden Knights Saturday, is the fourth-best start to a season in Avalanche history, trailing only Theo Fleury, Paul Stastny, and Joe Sakic. It’s the fastest start in the career of the Russian-born right wing and comes on the heels of him signing an eight-year, $49 million contract extension. Nichushkin has a point in each of Colorado’s first six games.

The third and fourth lines are different stories. The third line has produced only four points on the season—one goal and three assists. To date, the Avalanche have tried various combinations of six different players on their fourth line—Lucas Sedlak, Ben Meyers, Kurtis MacDermid, Anton Blidh, Martin Kaut, and Jayson Megna—and nothing seems to be working. The fourth line has produced only one point in six games, a goal from rookie Ben Meyers.

Forward Darren Helm (five points in 20 postseason games last year) should provide at least some firepower to the bottom-six when he returns from injury, and captain Gabe Landeskog, who is expected back in mid- to late-January, will bolster the offense and likely move Newhook back down to the bottom of the rotation. Until then, the bottom-six forwards are going to need to find a way to contribute.

Georgiev Settling In

Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado’s number-one goalie, stopped 33 of 35 shots and picked up his third win of the season. His record improves to 3-0-1. The stellar performance, with a flurry of brilliant saves late in the third period, drops his goals-against-average to 2.75 and raises his save percentage to .908.

Alexandar Georgiev Colorado Avalanche
Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 6-foot-1 native of Bulgaria is moving into the starting role for the first time in his NHL career and is looking to justify his contract, which is worth $10.2 million over three years. So far, head coach Jared Bednar and general manager Chris McFarland have to be pleased.

Up Next

The Avalanche travel to the East Coast for a three-game road trip, starting with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

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