Nichushkin nets the game winner against the Wild

  

The expectation was for the Colorado Avalanche to win against the Minnesota Wild in this back-to-back game. It happened, but not as easily as expected. Philip Gustavson’s standout performance kept the Avalanche at bay until overtime’s end. The Wild had sticks in lanes and did their best to close out Nathan MacKinnon. But, it was Valerie Nichushkin putting a bouncing puck in the net that gave the Avalanche the win in overtime.

Takeaways

— Penalty kill unit two looked strong with adding Yakov Trenin and Valerie Nichushkin back. There were a lot of penalties during the game. The Avalanche either had opportunities or had to hold strong and defend. No power play goals tonight, but the penalty killers defended keeping the Wild scoreless too.

Nichushkin was back. He will settle back into his full strength the more games he plays, but his presence on the second line seemed to give the team strength. He and the four other new players, picked up before the trade deadline, contributed.

— Casey Mittelstadt at second line center was noticeable. Sean Walker was strong in defense and he, too, made his presence felt. Brandon Duhaime and Trenin kept up with the Avalanche speed and showed the skills that had them added to the team.

— The Avalanche looked to start the game strong, but were outshot in the second period eleven to seven. During several games this season, they then out shot their opponents during the third period. Tonight was no different.

— Alexandar Georgiev stood strong when it was most needed. He came up strong with phenomenal saves, including a penalty shot.

Summary

The game was hard fought with the Avalanches lines shaken up and the Wild’s back up goalie, who had a three point goal against average, in net. The Avalanche’s new team members proved their worth in strengthening this already formidable team. Mark Rycroft commented during the third period that the Avalanche needed to “play sticky, greasy hockey” and they did.

The upcoming road trip will allow the lines to gel and find chemistry. Then Coach Jared Bednar with have the job of deciding which lines will work best together. Colorado Avalanche play the Calgary Flames on Tuesday in Calgary, the first of four upcoming games on the road.

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