The month of November has tested the Avalanche’s forward depth. Because of injuries to Mikko Rantanen, Gabe Landeskog, Colin Wilson, and a bevy of other Colorado forwards, head coach Jared Bednar has been forced to shuffle the lines.
Tonight Bednar stuck Andre Burakovsky on the top line alongside center Nathan MacKinnon and winger Joonas Donskoi. The former Capitals forward scored the first two goals, helping the Avalanche to a 3-2 road victory over the Flames on Tuesday.
Colorado (13-6-2) has won five of its last six games after going winless in its previous five.
Burakovsky is on pace to shatter his career-high in goals. When the Avalanche traded two draft picks for the young forward, they did so with the impression that he would take advantage of a bigger role and a better opportunity. Burakovsky has done exactly that, as he recorded his third multi-goal game of the season. Prior to this year, Burakovsky had scored 12 goals in each of the past three seasons with the Capitals. His 10 goals through 21 games rank second on the Avs behind MacKinnon.
The dynamic duo of MacKinnon and Cale Makar continue to lead the Avs. After the two combined for seven points against the Canucks on Saturday, MacKinnon and Makar combined for three assists on the two Burakovsky goals, giving the Avalanche a two-goal cushion before the first intermission. Through 21 games, Makar has 23 points, good for second in the NHL among all defensemen and first among all rookie skaters. MacKinnon leads the Avs with 31 points, good for sixth in league scoring.
Philipp Grubauer gives the Avalanche a solid effort in his return. Colorado’s starting goalie has missed the last five games with an injury before posting a 31-save performance tonight. Grubauer stopped all 13 Calgary shots in the first period, helping the Avalanche maintain a 2-0 lead at the break despite being outshot 13-7.
Vladislav Kamenev gets his first. The young Russian forward finally broke through, scoring his first goal of the season after recording three assists in nine games prior to tonight. Kamenev played 9:23, finishing with two shots and a +1 rating as the fourth-line center.
Makar breaks another Avalanche record. His illustrious rookie season continues to turn heads around the league while setting marks in the Avs’ record books. With his assist tonight, Makar has now recorded 13 points in nine games in November, making him the highest-scoring rookie defensemen in a single month in Avalanche history. And he does this with five games still remaining before the calendar turns to December.
Colorado closes out its five-game road trip in Minnesota, taking on its division rival Minnesota Wild at 6 p.m. on Thursday.