Ben Meyers scores in debut as Avalanche put seven past Carolina to extend winning streak to nine games

Apr 16, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Ben Meyers (59) during the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Five weeks ago the Avalanche suffered their only shutout loss of the season at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes. Following that game, captain and top-line winger Gabriel Landeskog ripped the officiating for missed calls against his teammate and Colorado’s second-line center Nazem Kadri.

On Saturday night, without Landeskog and Kadri, the Avalanche put seven goals past Hurricanes starting goalie Frederik Andersen to avenge that performance with a 7-4 victory — their ninth consecutive win. Colorado, who improved to 55-14-6 (116 points), clinched the Central Division and Western Conference following that victory. It also gained a four-point lead on the Florida Panthers (53-15-6) in the Presidents’ Trophy race.

“Really happy to get the top seed in our division,” head coach Jared Bednar said following his team’s 31st victory at Ball Arena. “It gives us home ice for a round or two.

“The overall race, as I said before, it’s not the be-all-end-all but it’s something that we had as a goal from the start of the season to put ourselves in the best position to succeed to get to where we want to go.”

Colorado scored two goals in the first period and opened up a four-goal lead in the second before the floodgates opened on both sides. Carolina snuck back into the game a number of times but was never able to get within a goal.

J.T. Compher scored twice on the power play, Nathan MacKinnon also added two goals and Ben Meyers — who made his NHL debut on the Avalanche’s fourth line — scored his first career NHL goal. The other goals for the Avs came from Mikko Rantanen and Alex Newhook.

Meyers captained Minnesota to a Frozen Four appearance in his senior season. Following a loss to Minnesota State in the semi-finals, he met with numerous NHL teams and chose to sign with Colorado earlier this week. Despite being ineligible to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Bednar chose to give Meyers a taste of NHL action.

His goal gave the Avs a 4-0 lead, scoring on a rebound in the crease.

“I kind of just blanked out I don’t really know, to be honest. Wasn’t thinking much,” Meyers said of his first goal. “It was a pretty special moment and great plays by my linemates to take it to the net. I was just fortunate to get the rebound there.”

Meyers had two shots and won 10-of-16 draws in 9:30 of ice time. Bednar said earlier in the day that he would rely on the 23-year-old in the faceoff circle — a position of struggle for the Avs at times this season.

“They’re just better,” Meyers said of taking draws in the NHL compared to the collegiate game. “Plain and simple, it’s just harder. They’re more experienced and stronger.”

Darcy Kuemper recorded his sixth straight victory and 36th overall, which is tied for second-most in the NHL. He made 29 saves and was a catalyst in keeping the score knotted at 0-0 early in the first period when Carolina controlled most of the play in Colorado’s zone.

“They’re a team that shoots in volume so the shots don’t necessarily mean a lot,” Bednar said. “But what they do, they put bodies to the net, and they’ll throw the puck to the net from everywhere.”

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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 completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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