It was a dream come true for Avalanche rookie Martin Kaut. And his mother was there to witness it.
The 2018 first-round draft pick scored his first NHL goal in the second period to help the Avs defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Wednesday.
Colorado (37-18-7) scored twice on the power play and J.T. Compher added the go-ahead goal late in the third period to win its fourth straight game. Gabe Landeskog and Kaut capitalized on the man-advantage, which was mired in a 1-for-16 stretch.
Kaut, 20, picked up a rebound in the slot and fired it past Buffalo goalie Carter Hutton to give the Avs a 2-1 lead at 7:15 of the second period.
“It’s a dream for me to score my first NHL goal,” Kaut said. “I just have to keep going and I hope more goals will come for me.”
Kaut was recalled from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League after the injury to Mikko Rantanen on Feb. 17. In 2018-19, his first season with the Eagles, Kaut became close friends with Avs goaltender Pavel Francouz. The two Czech Republic natives came to North America at the same time.
“I’m super proud of course,” Francouz said about his fellow countryman. “This is his fourth game and he scored his first goal. That’s huge for him, that’s for sure. I think he showed that he’s capable of playing this level of game. He’s working hard so I’m really happy to see how good he is.”
Francouz has backstopped the Avalanche during this four-game winning streak, surrendering just four goals. Despite being injury-plagued and scoring nine goals over the past four games, the Avs have been able to rely on the man they call “Frankie” to lead the way.
“It’s a huge help from the guys playing in front of me,” Francouz said. “We’re playing really well. We don’t allow many chances against and that’s the result of that hard work.”
With the game tied 2-2 midway through the third period, Compher, skating on a line with Joonas Donskoi and Tyson Jost, gave the Avalanche their third lead.
Jost, who had a goal waved off earlier in the period, fished the puck out from behind the net to Donskoi, who sent a pass from behind the net to Compher. The goal was made possible thanks to Jost’s persistence battling for the puck.
“It’s something that I’ve always had,” Jost said. “Being heavy in the corner and winning those one-on-one battles. Obviously Donny and Comph made a great play. But I think that’s something our line has to do to create offensively.”
Avs coach Jared Bednar added: “I thought that line did a great job. They had to play against (superstar Jack) Eichel a lot tonight and did a nice job. A huge goal in the third period. They did everything right. Got the puck behind their D, forechecked, a hard-fought wall battle and Compher finishes it off.”
Landeskog put the Avs ahead in the first period, burying Compher’s rebound on Colorado’s first power play.
The Sabres fought back to tie the game twice but never led despite controlling play at times.
“I liked the way our guys stuck with it,” Bednar said. “I felt like we were sluggish to start the game. We are playing a desperate team in Buffalo that’s been playing really well lately. Dangerous hockey team on the offensive side of it. And I felt like we were having some trouble checking them.”
Francouz improved to 17-5-3 on the season. He is tied for third in the NHL with a .927 save percentage. … Colorado is three points back of the St. Louis Blues for first in the Western Conference with two games in hand. … The Avs are 12-3-1 over their past 16 games and 9-3-1 in February. … Colorado was without Andre Burakovsky for the second consecutive game. He is day-to-day with an illness. … Matt Nieto, who was not a full participant in practice on Tuesday (lower-body injury), played on the fourth line. … Trade deadline acquisition Vladislav Namestnikov had two shots in 12:17 in his Avalanche debut. … Landeskog was 10-for-14 in the faceoff circle, taking a majority of the draws for the top line. … Nazem Kadri and Matt Calvert missed their eighth-straight games. Rantanen missed his fourth and Grubauer his fifth game.
- Martin Kaut: First NHL goal with his mother in attendance.
- Pavel Francouz: Proving once again that the Avalanche are in good hands with Philipp Grubauer injured.
- Tyson Jost: Jost had an assist, a disallowed goal, and a team-leading five shots.
The Avalanche hit the road for three games starting with a trip to Carolina to face off against the Hurricanes on Friday.