Alexandar Georgiev and Darcy Kuemper were never teammates. But after the Avs moved on from its Stanley Cup champion goalie in the ensuing offseason — a rare decision in the modern NHL era — Georgiev was acquired to be his replacement.

Georgiev earned his first shutout of the season, a 4-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday. It was a matchup where the goalie at the other end, Kuemper, watched as his former team improved to 10-5-1 and 6-1 in their last seven games behind their new starting goalie.

The 26-year-old was acquired for three draft picks in July and was handed the reigns to the defending Cup champs’ crease. He has answered the bell in more ways than one, improving to 8-2-1 in 11 starts, and sporting a .930 save percentage following his 32-save shutout at Capital One Arena.

Star forward Nathan MacKinnon led the charge offensively for the Avs, scoring a goal and recording two assists. The game-winning goal that opened the scoring came from superstar defenseman Cale Makar on Colorado’s masterful top-ranked power play.

Forwards Andrew Cogliano and Artturi Lehkonen added tallies in the third period for the Avalanche, who continue to win games despite a long list of notable injuries.

Makar’s goal came with the Avalanche on a two-man advantage thanks to two late first-period penalties by the Capitals. Garnet Hathaway was called for tripping MacKinnon at 17:56 before Lars Eller tripped up Avs forward Mikko Rantanen just 34 seconds later.

It was the 19th power-play goal for Colorado, which scored on 1-of-3 chances, all of which came in the first period.

The shot discrepancy continued two nights after the Avs were outshot 48-15 at Carolina. Colorado trailed 14-2 in shots early, but Georgiev was solid, keeping the Capitals from taking an early lead. Things began to level out following the two-man advantage and continued into the second period. The Avalanche ended up getting outshot 32-29.

Injuries have ravaged the Avs all season long. Captain Gabriel Landeskog and depth forward Darren Helm have yet to suit up. Valeri Nichushkin, who had seven goals and 12 points in seven games, has missed the last nine. Bowen Byram, Samuel Girard, Shane Bowers and Kurtis MacDermid have also since gone down with injuries.

In their absence, superstar Nathan MacKinnon has elevated his game, somehow reaching new heights. Through 16 games, MacKinnon has five goals and 22 assists. His 27 points are fourth in the NHL but his 1.69 points per game trail only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (1.88) and Nichushkin (1.71).

Rantanen ranks fifth in points per game at 1.63. He assisted on Lehkonen’s goal.

The Avalanche close out their three-game road trip with a matchup against the Dallas Stars, who entered Saturday’s matchup against the Islanders with a 10-5-2 record and rank first in the Central Division in points.

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completing his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked as the assistant sports information director for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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