There’s home-ice advantage and then there’s what the Colorado Avalanche have going on right now. The Avs won their 18th consecutive game at home, dumping the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Sunday at Ball Arena. It’s the fifth-longest home winning streak in NHL history. The 2011-12 Detroit Red Wings hold the record with 23 consecutive home wins.
Colorado took control with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart late in the second period and then rode that wave to the victory. The Avalanche are now 25-0-2 on the season when scoring first and moved to 14-0-1 when leading after two periods. Not only have they won 18 straight at home, but their last regulation loss in Denver was all the way back on Oct. 26, 2021.
Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s victory:
Landeskog Still Scorching
Gabriel Landeskog won’t be participating in the All-Star Game this season, but there are few players hotter than the longtime Avalanche captain as the break approaches. The captain scored a goal on Sunday, giving him 19 on the season, and extended his point streak to five games. He also has four goals and two assists over his last three games.
As impossible as it sounds, Landeskog’s 11th season with the Avalanche might turn out to be his best season with the club. He has nine goals in January alone and is cruising toward his career best of 34 goals in 2018-19. Landeskog totaled career highs in assists (41) and points (75) that season, and it was his only season with 30 goals. Sunday’s tally gives him 45 points this season.
Landeskog’s scoring outburst has him second on the team in goals, behind only Mikko Rantanen, who added his 23rd goal of the season on Sunday. Rantanen’s goal came on the power play and pushed the Avs’ lead to 3-1 in the second period. Much like his linemate, Rantanen is almost certainly going to set a career best in goals. His previous best was 31 in 2018-19. He also scored 30 last season in just 52 games.
Kadri Heating up Again
Nazem Kadri already earned his first All-Star appearance, and now he’s making a serious run at the Art Ross Trophy. He scored his 18th goal of the campaign on Sunday, lifting him to sole possession of third place on the NHL scoring list for the season. His 59 points are just three behind Florida Panthers star Jonathan Huberdeau and two behind Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers.
Kadri’s goal completely changed the complexion of the game. Tied at 1-1, he cleaned up a rebound in front to give the Avalanche the lead. Sabres coach Don Granato challenged the play, pleading that Colorado’s Alex Newhook delivered a hand pass to Dylan Sikura just before the goal was scored. He lost the challenge, giving the Avs a power play. Rantanen’s goal came 1:48 later. The two-goal lead was too much, and Valeri Nichushkin added an empty-netter late in the third.
Kadri’s season is bordering on incredible. It’s his 13th NHL season, and his 59 points are just two points behind his career high of 61 set back in 2016-17. He played all 82 games that season, while Sunday’s win was his 40th game of this campaign. His 41 assists this season are already a career high, blasting his previous high—30 in 2013-14—completely out of the water.
Kuemper on Cruise Control
For all of the offensive players chasing career-best seasons, Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper has been pretty sharp in his own right lately. Sunday was another impressive display, as he stopped 25 of 26 shots. He was also their best penalty killer, stopping all five shots he faced when Buffalo was on the power play. The Sabres were 0-for-4 with the man advantage, and his active stick also broke up at least three passes that led to Avs clears when they were on the penalty kill.
Buffalo’s only goal wasn’t exactly Kuemper’s fault, either. Devon Toews had a bad turnover behind the Avalanche net that was scooped up by Jeff Skinner for a quick wraparound try. Kuemper stopped Skinner’s shot, but couldn’t corral the rebound attempt by Dylan Cozens. That tied the game at 1-1 early in the second, but Kuemper didn’t get solved again.
The victory put Kuemper at an impressive 12-0-1 in his last 15 appearances, and his last loss in regulation was back on Nov. 26 when the Avalanche were dumped by the Dallas Stars. Sunday’s victory was his 21st of the season. He’s never won more than 27 games in a season. Colorado has just one more game before the All-Star break when they’ll take on the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. He spent the last four seasons with Arizona before the Avalanche traded for him this past offseason.
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.