Backup goalie Jonas Johansson earns first Avalanche victory: “Our team will gain confidence in him”

Jonas Johansson allowed first-shot goals in consecutive appearances as the backup Avalanche goaltender this season.

It didn’t shake his confidence.

Johansson, in his second Avs start on Friday night, got caught in the corner of his goal when St. Louis Blues forward Mike Hoffman jammed the puck into net. Johansson called it “a bad goal by me” in the first period as Avs defenseman Cale Makar entered the crease for a quick word of encouragement.

“He was just giving me a tap on the pad, really,” Johansson said. “We’re a team in there. Everyone makes mistakes and we support each other no matter what.”

Johansson, after losing his Avs debut last month via shootout, turned the corner in a big way at Ball Arena. The Sweden native — recently acquired via trade (Buffalo Sabres) — stepped up to make 25 big stops to close a 3-2 victory against the Blues.

“A great feeling,” Johansson said. “Big points for us, and personally, it was really fun to the get the first win in the Avs jersey. Just good things.”

Johansson, 25, gave up another goal in the second period facing a 4-on-3 disadvantage. But he was especially solid in the third with Colorado (36-24-8) clinging to a one-goal lead. A cross-checking penalty on Mikko Rantanen with 15:08 left in regulation made for some tense moments. The Blues fired six shots on net over their final power-play chance.

Johansson didn’t flinch.

“The PK did a great job at the end there,” Johansson said. “A bunch of guys getting huge blocks for us.”

The Avalanche will rely heavily on starter Philipp Grubauer on its push toward the playoffs as he leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.78). The Avs could still seek more help behind him prior to the April 12 trade deadline. However, Johansson showcased on Thursday several reasons why the franchise spent a 2021 sixth-round draft pick to bring him to Colorado.

“Our team will gain confidence in him as he continues to play,” coach Jared Bednar said.

Deja-Blues. The Avalanche faces the Blues on Saturday in the second night of back-to-back games at Ball Arena. Colorado will also play St. Louis four additional times over its next 19 games — closing out a tightened season.

“When you get down to the stretch run here, games are going to get intense, they’re going to get physical, and there will be some penalties. That’s fine,” Bednar said. “It doesn’t really matter if we’re playing the Blues over and over, or if it’s somebody else. I think all of the games are going to go that way.”

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