The Seattle Kraken wouldn’t start goaltender Philipp Grubauer in the first meeting against his former team so the Avalanche forced their hand. And it took just over 25 minutes to get him into the game on Friday.
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said he spoke with Grubauer and felt it was better to not start him against the Avs. After all, Colorado entered the game on a three-game winning streak and Seattle had lost five consecutive games, allowing at least four goals in each outing. It felt like a perfect opportunity for the Avs to get one over Grubauer.
Despite his efforts to protect his No. 1 goalie, Hakstol’s plan fell flat on its face. Because Colorado won its fourth straight game, scoring four goals on starter Chris Driedger alone, on its way to a 7-3 victory at Climate Pledge Arena.
Grubauer allowed goals to former teammates Cale Makar and Erik Johnson in the second period as well as newcomer Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
At the other end, the guy Colorado acquired to replace Grubauer made 25 saves. Darcy Kuemper, who is now 8-4-0 and the starter for the Avs’ entire four-game winning streak, was riding a shutout until surrendering the last three goals of the game.
The Avalanche also got a shorthanded tally from Valeri Nichushkin and two power-play markers from Andre Burakovsky. Makar finished two goals as well. They’ve now outscored the opposition 24-8 during a dominating four-game winning streak heading into a home game against the Ottawa Senators.
It’s safe to say this Stanley-Cup contending team is back to form.
Naz keeps going
It’s impossible lately to go through an Avalanche game without applauding center Nazem Kadri for another outstanding performance. Kadri extended his team-best point streak to eight games, earning 15 points in the process. It’s the second-longest point streak of his career (nine games with Toronto in 2017). He also recorded his sixth consecutive game with an assist, extending his career-best streak.
Kadri has posted multiple points six times in 14 games this season. In his first year in Colorado, he accomplished the feat nine times before following it up with seven multi-point games in 2021. He’s well on his way to demolishing both of those numbers, as well as on pace to smash his career-high of 61 points.
Another game of heroism for Colorado’s most valuable player through 14 games.
Val is unbeatable
Wins are often only recorded as a statistic for goaltenders. But if skater victories were also tracked, Valeri Nichushkin would have an unbeatable record.
The Avalanche are 5-0-0 with Nichushkin in the lineup. He was present in their opening night victory over Chicago and then missed nine consecutive games before returning just in time to help the Avs win four straight games. Nichushkin has recorded a point in four of five games, including a shorthanded tally on the breakaway in the first period. Like Kadri, Nichushkin is also in a contract year and has been unstoppable on that second line.
Powered by Burky
Since we’re talking about Colorado’s second line, how about the third piece of that unit? The right-winger to the Kadri and Nichushkin duo, Burakosky’s two goals on the power play helped increase the Avs’ man-advantage effectiveness to 47 percent during their winning streak (8-for-17.
Burakovsky is also in a contract year and a pending unrestricted free agent like his linemates. He had a sluggish start to the season for his standards but like many of his teammates, has caught fire. Burakovsky has five goals and six points in his last five games.
Offense from Makar
What was somewhat of a slow start for Cale Makar has now evolved into him being the highest-producing defenseman in the NHL. Of all blueliners to appear in at least five games, Makar is the only one operating at more than a point-per-game pace.
Makar scored two goals and added an assist to improve his totals to five goals and 13 points in 12 games. The two points leaders among defenseman, Roman Josi and Adam Fox, have 16 points in 16 and 17 games respectively. Coincidentally, Josi and Fox are the last two Norris Trophy winners — something Makar will likely be in the running for once again this season.
Aube-Kubel pitches in
Playing in just his second game with the Avs, forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored to make it 7-0 in the third period. His first goal of the season was assisted by linemates Tyson Jost and Alex Newhook, who he has been paired with since his first practice with the team on Monday.
Aube-Kubel had 10 career goals in 102 games with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to getting claimed off waivers by Colorado last weekend.
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