Nichushkin and Annunen extinguish the Flames


The Colorado Avalanche head onto the road in the middle of a three-game winning streak. The unfortunate news of losing one of their best penalty killers in Logan O’Connor has come as a blow to the team, but the new players will make up for it. Forward Artturi Lehkonen is missing time because of an illness, but he has joined the team on the road. The new players have dropped into the lineup and look like they have been with the Avalanche for months. The Calgary Flames trail the Avalanche by nearly 20 points in the standings, so the expectation should be high for Colorado. Here are the takeaways for the 6–2 victory as the Avalanche extinguish the Flames.


— Valeri Nichushkin has been on a role since his return to the team for the Player Assistance Program. After missing 56 days for an unknown reason, Nichushkin started strongly. Nichushkin had four points tonight and had the overtime winner against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Before he had left the team, Nichushkin was on a roll of 10 points in nine games.

— Nathan MacKinnon is on a 13 game point streak and has now set a new career high in points. He came into the game four points ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov. With MacKinnon’s goal and assist, he now has a six point lead of Kucherov and 113 points for the season. The Avalanche still have 18 games remaining on their regular season schedule.

— Justus Annunen is building his confidence against the weaker teams in the league. With two consecutive shutouts against the Chicago Blackhawks, it helped him get used to the speed of the NHL game. The Flames have some great shooters on their team, like Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau. Annunen saved 21 of 23 shots and now is giving a chance for Alexandar Georgiev to get more breaks for the last stretch of the season and playoffs.

— Casey Mittelstadt scored his first goal in an Avalanche sweater. Once the new players have gotten comfortable, they have shown that they can slot in easily. Devon Toews tapped it up to Brandon Duhaime, and that led to a stretch of ice to Mittelstadt. This play showed exactly what Colorado acquired him with his speed and ability to use the snapshot.


The Avalanche now are on a four-game winning streak, but remain in third place in the Central Division. It was sketchy to start against the Flames with them taking advantage of a wide open blue line. If Colorado’s forwards tighten up the top of the defensive zone, no one can stop them. They won’t have much time to rest with a game tomorrow night in Vancouver against a powerful Canucks team.

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