Forward’s Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin all had different homes last season. But two trades and a late-summer signing brought the trio to Denver, forming Colorado’s second line, and combining for nine points in the Avalanche’s 6-1 rout over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Burakovsky scored the eventual game-winning goal in the first period and added three assists to lead the way while Nichushkin scored once and finished with three points. Kadri had one goal and two points.
Colorado weathered an early Buffalo storm, killing a penalty and keeping the Sabres off the scoresheet despite surrendering six of the games’ first seven shots. While Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer was strong on one end, the Avalanche’s offense started to take control at the other end. Defenseman
Sam Girard gave the Avs a lead, his second of the season before Burakovsky’s tally 45 seconds later.
Buffalo’s lone goal came with under a second left in the first period, the second late first-period goal Colorado surrenders in two games.
The Avalanche rout ensued in the second period. Kadri scored a minute into the frame before goals from Nikita Zadorov, Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen made it 6-1 before the break.
Grubauer solid on the road. Coming off a game where Grubauer yielded five goals in Philadelphia, the second-year Avalanche netminder was strong. Grubauer made 23 saves to get back on track heading into the next three games to close out the road trip.
Girard isn’t the only defenseman pitching in offensively for the Avalanche. Since Colorado’s new years eve game against Winnipeg, Girard leads Colorado’s defense with 13 points in 12 games. Another Av, Zadorov, is also hot offensively, scoring three goals and eight points in his past six games. The Avalanche passed the New York Rangers in total scoring from defensemen with 134 points.
Nichushkin, Graves, finish with a plus-4, each. Defenseman Ryan Graves continues to lead the NHL in plus/minus with a plus-36. Nichushkin’s big night brings his total to plus-24, which ranks fifth in the league and is tops among forwards in the NHL.