Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov got the call tonight and the Avalanche played three solid periods of hockey, earning a nice 3-0 home victory before heading out on the road.
Matt Duchene put the Avs on the board early in the 1st, following a great shift from Comeau, Soderberg, and Landeskog. As that line was heading off the ice, Nick Holden stole the puck at mid-ice and made a nice cross-ice pass to Duchene, who bee-lining straight from the bench. Two dekes later and the puck was in the net, his 22nd of the season (Video).
The Avalanche struck again in the 2nd Period during Nick Holden hooking penalty. Nathan MacKinnon stole the puck and flashed up ice, getting off a nice shot. Cory Schneider made the stop, but Tyson Barrie put away the rebound and give Colorado some cushion (Video).
The Devils would even up the shots on goal in the 3rd Period, but backup goalie Calvin Pickard, getting a spot-start tonight for Semyon Varlamov, would have none of it. The 23-year old would go on to earn his first NHL career shutout.
New Jersey pulled Schneider with 2:30 remaining, but Carl Soderberg would be the only player to score, stealing the puck in the Avs' end and sliding the puck into the empty net to seal the victory (Video).
With Nashville's overtime loss tonight, Colorado again moves into a playoff position in the tough Central Division. They will travel to play last place Columbus on Saturday.
- Nikita Zadorov - This was the player the Avalanche thought they were getting when they traded Ryan O'Reilly this offseason. Zadorov didn't register a point, but he played 19:52 tonight and led all Avalanche defenders 5v5 with Plus-7 CF. He was physical, aggressive, smart with the puck, and got off a number of great shots. More please.
- Nathan MacKinnon - After a really forgettable night against Chicago, Mac bounced back in a big way. Led all Avalanche skaters 5v5 with Plus-13 CF. Picked up the primary assist on Tyson Barrie's 2nd Period goal.
- Calvin Pickard - A shutout playing behind two fresh AHL call-ups? Hell of a game, sir.
- Schmucks? What schmucks? Maybe the 4th line for stretches in the 3rd Period? Maybe Cory Schneider for stopping a whole bunch of A+ Colorado scoring opportunities? Nah. Tonight was pretty schmuckless.