Nichushkin scores two power-play goals as Avs blank Golden Knights
DENVER (AP) — Valeri Nichushkin scored two power-play goals, Nathan MacKinnon had an assist to extend his season-opening home points streak to 23 games and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Wednesday night.
Alexandar Georgiev made 25 saves for his second shutout of the season. Logan O’Connor added a third-period goal and Mikko Rantanen had a pair of assists to help the Avalanche win for the sixth time in seven games.
MacKinnon became the fourth player in NHL history with a season-opening home points streak of at least 23 games.
“His game is always at a high level,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s just now every game he’s finding a way to impact the game.”
Colorado controlled the tempo, which was a departure from the last time the Avalanche faced Vegas on Nov. 4 in a 7-0 loss. Georgiev struggled in that game, allowing all seven goals on 34 shots.
Vegas had to alter its plans in net when Adin Hill, who was tentatively slated to start after being sidelined with a lower-body injury, was announced as unavailable. Jiri Patera stepped in and stopped 32 shots. The Golden Knights also recalled Isaiah Saville from Henderson of the American Hockey League and he served as the backup. Logan Thompson remains out with an illness.
“To see (Patera) have the game he did and for us to give him that performance was upsetting,” Vegas forward Chandler Stephenson said. “He played great.”
The struggling Golden Knights have lost seven of nine.
“We need to be better. We haven’t been on top of our game,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s why we’ve lost so many games."
Georgiev made some nifty saves all game long. He also got a fortunate break in the second period when a shot clanged off the post.
“Perfect game, for me,” Bednar said. “You're never going to go through the game with zero scoring chances against. Against good teams, they’re going to have a couple of grade-A chances.”
Nichushkin scored a pair of power-play goals to stake Colorado to a 2-0 lead after two periods. Both goals were set up from passes by Rantanen from behind the net.
MacKinnon also was credited with an assist on Nichushkin's second goal. MacKinnon joined some formidable company of players who've notched a home points streak of at least 23 games to begin a season. The list also includes Wayne Gretzky (40 straight home games with the Los Angeles Kings in 1988-89, and 23 with Edmonton in 1983-84), Bobby Orr (25 with Boston in 1974-75) and Phil Esposito (23 with Boston in 1973-74), according to NHL Stats.
In addition, MacKinnon tied Joe Sakic (2000-01) for the longest home points streak at any stage of a season in franchise history.
“It’s a different speed with (MacKinnon) out there,” O’Connor said. “He’s a guy that we can rely on every single night. He’s a horse out there and he’s easy to follow. He's doing all the right things.”
Both teams were missing key contributors. Vegas forward Michael Amadio was a late scratch due to an illness. The team also announced that William Carrier underwent surgery for an upper-body injury and is considered week-to-week.
The Avalanche were missing Josh Manson (lower-body injury) and Miles Wood (illness). They had a familiar face show up at the rink for morning skate Wednesday in captain Gabriel Landeskog. He’s expected to miss this season — his second straight — as he recovers from another knee surgery.
“Whenever he’s around, he always brings a good energy,” Bednar said.
Golden Knights: Host Boston on Thursday night.
Avalanche: Start a five-game trip Saturday night at Toronto.
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