DENVER — The Vancouver Canucks are the only team in the Western Conference that has had a better record than the Avalanche for seemingly the entire season. But for the second time this season — both at Ball Arena — Colorado put in one of its more complete 60-minute efforts to defeat the NHL’s top team.

Ryan Johansen scored twice and Artturi Lehkonen added an empty netter for the Avs, who improved to 22-5-0 at home. Nathan MacKinnon recorded an assist in the third period on Lehkonen’s tally, extending his season-opening home point streak to 27 games. In goal, Alexandar Georgiev made 24 saves for his 30th victory of the season. He ties Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko, who also stopped 24 for the most wins in the NHL. Georgiev is 3-0-0 with a .915 save percentage in his last three starts.

“He was competitive tonight. And I thought our guys were really competitive in front of him,” head coach Jared Bednar said.


Johansen steps up

Head coach Jared Bednar credited Johansen earlier in the day for putting in a more competitive effort over the last few games. Johansen has struggled to find his fit with the Avs. But whether or not general manager Chris MacFarland finds a taker for him before the trade deadline, the reality is, the Avalanche need Johansen to produce in the games he plays. Without Valeri Nichushkin and Logan O’Connor, their already weak depth is getting tested even more.

His two goals on Vezina Trophy hopeful Demko were his 12th and 13th of the season. More importantly, they were his first two goals since the calendar flipped to 2024. Johansen had just six assists during his 20-game goal-less drought.

Consistent attack

The Avalanche have been one of the top offensive teams all year long — led by the top line and the NHL’s highest point-producing blueline core. But one of the issues that have hampered the Avs in recent weeks, especially on the road, has been their inability to show their strengths consistently like in years past. Against the Canucks, Colorado came out strong to start the game and never let up. Despite allowing the first goal, a nifty play by Brock Boeser to set up J.T. Miller, Colorado managed to keep pace with one of the deeper offensive cores in the leagues.

Vancouver came in on the second leg of a back-to-back, granted Monday’s matchup in Minnesota began early in the afternoon. The Avs stepped in on the attack and utilized the scheduling advantage presented to them. Colorado had a 12-10 shot advantage in the second period before taking control early in the third period to take the lead.

And when the Canucks started to attack later in the period, they worked to clear the crease and help the goalie track the puck. Ehen all else failed, desperation blocks were the way to go. None bigger than Artturi Lehkonen laying his body on the line when Filip Hronek winded up for a slap shot on an open net. Vancouver had just eight shots in the third despite getting several good looks. A credit to the team’s ability to help their goalie.

Structured defense and an excellent game from Georgiev

The Avs’ inability to find a proper backup goalie has sucked a lot of the oxygen out of the goaltending conversation this season. But Georgiev, who has had to carry the load, has struggled with consistency all year. I’m not one to blame the No. 1 goalie for Colorado’s troubles. The team’s defense has been a shell of what it was a year ago in front of him. And the number of games he’s started since being acquired from the Rangers is surely going to lead to some level of fatigue. There’s a middle ground here that’s probably the most accurate: Georgiev hasn’t been the biggest issue, but he hasn’t been the best he could be.

Against the Canucks, Georgiev was the guy this team and its fanbase grew to love last season.

He made several big saves — mostly in the third period with Colorado ahead 2-1 — to secure the victory. Georgiev didn’t take much of the credit after the game, instead choosing to thank his teammates for their efforts. When the team plays a structured defensive game like this, and limits turnovers, you’ll see a lot more showings like this from Colorado’s top goalie.