The Avalanche is now 2-0 and has outscored its opponents 13-3 in Nathan MacKinnon’s latest absence. Again without its top-line center on Saturday night, Colorado got goals from six players to defeat the San Jose Sharks 6-2 and sweep its two-game homestand at Ball Arena.
The Avs (6-5-1), who took Sunday off, dominated the Vancouver Canucks in a 7-1 triumph on Thursday.
Five takeaways from Saturday’s win:
Identity. Notwithstanding the first six minutes of the game, the Avs played to their identity. Clean and quick defensive-zone exits, limiting turnovers, and multiple same-shift offensive opportunities forged from a relentless forecheck.
The recipe for success is based on sound defensive structure and moving the puck up ice without turning it over.
Sammy G. Defenseman Sam Girard had three assists before scoring an empty-net goal for the second four-point game of his young career. Girard is now tied as the Avs’ fourth-leading scorer with nine points in 10 games.
He’s on a roll, and on Saturday he was exceptional in the absence of like-minded defenseman Bo Byram, who was scratched with an apparent head injury sustained on Thursday.
“He was absolutely incredible,” Avs center Nazem Kadri. “What a player. He was moving tonight, obviously feeling it. Helps to get on the board as a skilled player and that’s what we need moving forward and he’s definitely more than capable.”
Active defensemen. The Avs got more than half of their shots (16) from defensemen, with Girard producing a team-high five. Colorado is a tough team to beat when the defensemen are so active in the offensive zone.
Making saves. Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped 28-of-30 shots, a .933 save percentage that brought him to .914 on the season. Kuemper has made 87 saves on 93 shots (.935) in his past three games.
“He’s been steady,” Kadri said of Kuemper. “That’s what we’re going to need from him. He’s a great goaltender, and that’s why we acquired him. Earlier in the season, I don’t think we were playing very good in front of him. Might have hurt his numbers a little bit but we’ve all kind of found our stride and we’re playing together and it definitely shows.”
Situational scoring. The Avs’ struggling power play was a disappointing 1-for-5, but they got a man-advantage goal from defenseman Devon Toews to tie the game, 1-1, midway through the first period. Colorado also scored shorthanded (Logan O’Connor) in addition to four even-strength goals (the latter an empty-netter).
The Avs, who got two power-play goals and a shorthanded tally on Thursday, were again dangerous in all facets.
Footnotes. The Avs will resume practice Monday when newly acquired forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel will officially join the team. Aube-Kubel, who was claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, will likely replace J.T. Compher, who left Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury. … Colorado begins a two-game road trip on Wednesday at Vancouver. It concludes with the club’s first-ever meeting against the expansion Seattle Kraken on Friday.
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