Colorado should be struggling without their top offensive player. Instead, they’ve gone on a goal-scoring tear.
In their second game without Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche overcame a slow start with another strong offensive push to beat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 on Saturday night.
“We played good without Nate last year, too,” coach Jared Bednar said. “Guys recognize the urgency of the situation and guys have been elevating their game.”
Sam Girard led the way for the Avalanche with a goal and three assists, while Nazem Kadri had a goal and an assist and Alex Newhook scored his first regular-season NHL goal for Colorado. Darcey Kuemper stopped 28 shots for the Avalanche, who have outscored their last two opponents 13-3.
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MacKinnon is out for about three weeks due to a lower-body injury.
“Guys go down, other guys need to step up and fill the role,” Kadri said. “Life goes on. It’s not like you can stop playing if you’ve got an injured team.”
Logan Couture and Alexander Barabanov scored for the Sharks, while Adin Hill made 25 saves.
San Jose was whole again after coach Bob Boughner and seven players were reinstated from the NHL COVID-19 protocol list on Friday. Boughner had not coached since Oct. 28 against Montreal. Assistant John McLean led the team to a 3-2-1 record in his absence.
“You would like to have a little spike when you get some veterans back in the lineup,” Boughner said. “Those guys all played OK for the first few shifts but as the game went on you could tell fatigue set in.”
Things started well when Couture gave the Sharks a 1-0 lead with his sixth goal just 3:17 into the game. Colorado then got a power-play goal from Devon Toews to tie it midway through the first and then took the lead on Kadri’s fourth goal of the season with about six minutes left.
Newhook made it 3-1 at with about seven minutes left in the second period and Logan O’Connor’s short-handed goal 2:55 later put the Avalanche ahead by three.
“It feels good,” said Newhook, who scored a goal in the playoffs last spring. “Just trying my best to put it home there. (Girard) made a great play, coming down the wall. As soon as I saw him coming down I tried to get open. I knew he saw me so it was just a matter of time before he slid it over.”
Alexander Barabanov got San Jose within two goals when he scored at 9:02 of the third but Andre Burakovsky and Girard put the game out of reach.
Boughner, trainer Ray Tufts and equipment manager Mike Aldrich were reinstated from the COVID-19 protocol list, as well as the following seven Sharks players: Kevin Labanc, Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Jake Middleton, Matt Nieto, Radim Simek and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. All of them played Saturday, and Meier and Karlsson had assists.
“It’s adversity that we faced with seven guys going out with (the coronavirus),” Meier said. “But it’s not an excuse. We’ve got to get back and work, work even harder at times like that when you’ve got to come back.”
ANOTHER ONE DOWN
Colorado lost another top-line center when J.T. Compher, who was filling MacKinnon's spot in the first line, left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period.
“Pulled something,” Bednar said of Compher. “Not doing a great right now. I threw him out there, I didn’t know he was hurt. He skated a loop and came right off. He’ll see the docs again and see what’s going on. I don’t know the timeline on that. It could be two days or it could be much longer.”
NOTES: The Avalanche claimed F Nicolas Aube-Kubel off waivers from Philadelphia. ... With the return of players from the COVID-19 protocol list the Sharks reassigned seven players to the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL. ... Colorado D Bo Byram was scratched from the lineup.
San Jose: At Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Colorado: At Vancouver on Wednesday night.
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