Avs crush Anaheim Ducks, stay hot on Minnesota Wild's heels in Central standings
Published in Hockey
No sweating it out this time for the Avalanche.
Colorado completed a clean two-game road trip against non-playoff teams with a 5-1 win at the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
The Avs (44-23-6) established a two-point advantage over Dallas for second place in the Central. They trail the Wild by one point for the division lead, and they have a clash vs. Minnesota for first place upcoming Wednesday (8 p.m. MT) at Ball Arena.
Johansson gives Georgiev a necessary breather: Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said before the road trip that he planned to split goalies in the Western Conference back-to-back. He went with Alexandar Georgiev at Arizona, a team that always gives Colorado fits. That decision paid off as Georgiev stopped seven consecutive shootout attempts to help the Avs earn two important points. So it was backup Jonas Johansson for the back end in Anaheim. Georgiev needed a rest after starting five consecutive games and 12 of the last 13. He kept a .909 save percentage during that March gauntlet. Johansson saved 29 of 30 shots against the Ducks, a solid performance as he battles for depth chart positioning ahead of the playoffs.
Red hot special teams: Which unit is surging more, the Avalanche power play or penalty kill? It’s hard to say right now. In the last 23 games, Colorado opponents are 9 for 68 on the power play (13.2%). Anaheim went 0 for 2. Not bad for an Avalanche PK that started the season allowing nine goals in 20 opportunities. They have climbed into a tie for 16th the NHL with Pittsburgh after spending the entire season in the bottom half of the league. Meanwhile, the Avs went 1 for 3 on the power play, extending their streak to 12 consecutive games with a power play goal. They are 15 for 38 (39.5%) during that stretch. Their 25.6% season rate is fourth in the league and best in the Central. Sam Girard scored this one, highlighting a night in which three defensemen tallied a goal.
An expected scorer and a shocker: Nathan MacKinnon is closing in on 100. With 7.9 seconds remaining in the first period, he turned to fling a puck at the net. It took goalie John Gibson by surprise and beat his short side to give Colorado the lead for good. MacKinnon is up to 32 goals — matching last season’s total — and 95 points after a second-period assist to Valeri Nichushkin. With nine games remaining, MacKinnon needs just five points to eclipse the century mark for the first time in an illustrious career that reached 700 games in Anaheim. He has seasons with 99, 97, 93 and 93 points.
On the opposite end of the scoring spectrum, Jack Johnson found the back of the net for the first time since 2021, when he scored the first goal of Colorado’s Stanley Cup championship season. Since then, he has played in 161 games (including playoffs), signed a one-year deal with Chicago and gotten traded back to Colorado.
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