It was a night of milestones for the Avalanche’s top players.
Colorado was without superstar center Nathan MacKinnon (lower body) but defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 at Staples Center to keep pace with Vegas in the race for first in the West Division.
The victory was also great for individual accomplishments and milestones.
The Deen’s List:
Alex Newhook, Colorado’s 16th overall pick in 2019, recorded his first career NHL point in his second game. Newhook, 20, assisted on a goal from defenseman Cale Makar in the second period just two nights after making his debut.
Newhook signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Avs on March 31 after his sophomore season at Boston College and started his pro career with the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League.
Avs coach Jared Bednar made it clear after he was called up that he would get a chance to make his career debut and perhaps stay in the lineup heading into the playoffs.
Newhook’s done exactly that in two games. He was a plus-1 in the Avalanche’s loss at San Jose on Wednesday and looked increasingly more comfortable Friday.
Newhook looks like a keeper.
Rantanen’s big 30
Top-line winger Mikko Rantanen scored his 30th goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 in the first period. Rantanen reached 30 goals for the second time in his career and is just the third player to do it in the NHL this year (Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid).
Rantanen needed just 48 games to reach 30 goals. MacKinnon scored his 30th goal in his 49th game in 2019-20, which was the second fasted to 30 in club history before Rantanen’s goal Friday.
And the quickest? That record belongs to the legendary Joe Sakic. He needed just 44 games to do it in 1995-96.
All hail Cale
Makar’s game-winning goal was a beauty. He was on the ice for the Kings’ first goal before leading the charge for Colorado’s come-from-behind victory. Makar had seven shots and played 23:03.
In the process, Makar reached the 40-point mark for the second time in his young two-year career. He entered the game with 39 points in as many games before assisting on Rantanen’s tally and adding a goal in the second period.
Makar is the fifth active defenseman in the NHL to reach 40 points in each of his first two seasons, joining Rangers’ Adam Fox in doing it this season. The accomplishment is also the first in Avalanche history.
Grubauer’s heavy load
Goalie Philipp Grubauer won his 28th game — second-most in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy (31).
Grubauer reached 28 wins in just his 37th start and 38th appearance — both of which are career-highs. The pending unrestricted free agent made just 36 starts last season, which was a carer high. Grubauer’s three-year deal with Colorado expires at the end of this season.
A hefty raise is in order if he continues his strong play well into the playoffs.
An ‘A’ for Toews
Without MacKinnon in the lineup, Devon Toews wore the alternate captain ‘A’ for the Avs. Bednar has often given the ‘A’ to Sam Girard in the absence of MacKinnon or Rantanen, but with Girard out, it was Toews’ chance to join the leadership group.
This is the first time Toews has worn a letter in his time with the Avs.