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Rapid Recap: Avalanche 3, Maple Leafs 1

Valeri Nichushkin breaks third-period tie to give Colorado its fourth straight win

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

TORONTO--Valeri Nichushkin recorded his first career short-handed goal to help the Colorado Avalanche defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday.

Nichushkin scored unassisted and on a breakway at 6:40 of the third period to unknot a 1-1 tie to that point. The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native now has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past seven games.

Both teams scored in the second frame with Nathan MacKinnon notching his 18th goal of the season while on the power play to give the Avs a 1-0 lead, and Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman tying the game less than two minutes later.

Joonas Donskoi sealed the win for Colorado by sending the puck into an empty net with 1:19 remaining after taking a pass from Matt Calvert. Avs goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 38 saves, including stopping all 16 shots he saw in the third period.

Colorado continues its road trip and completes a back-to-back set at the Montreal Canadiens at 5 p.m. MT on Thursday.

Statistics | Photo Gallery | Highlights | Watch: Coach Bednar Postgame

THE GOALS

1st Period
No scoring

2nd Period
10:52 COL (1-0) - PPG, Nathan MacKinnon received a seam pass from Mikko Rantanen and scored with a wrist shot that went top shelf. 
12:42 TOR (1-1) - Zach Hyman was in front of the crease and redirected Alexander Kerfoot's pass into the net.

3rd Period
6:40 COL (2-1) - SHG, Valeri Nichushkin scored on a short-handed breakaway to give the Avalanche its second lead of the game.
18:41 COL (3-1) - ENG, Joonas Donskoi scored into an empty net after taking a neutral-zone pass from Matt Calvert.

Final: Avalanche - 3 | Maple Leafs - 1

3 STARS

  1. Philipp Grubauer (COL): Made 38 saves in the win
  2. Frederik Andersen (TOR): Stopped 27 of 29 shots
  3. Valeri Nichushking (COL): Scored the short-handed, game-winning goal 

POWER PLAYS 

Colorado: 1 for 3
Toronto: 0 for 1

GOALTENDING BATTLE

Colorado: Philipp Grubauer made 38 of 39 saves.
Toronto: Frederik Andersen stopped 27 shots in the contest, his second in as many nights.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Nathan MacKinnon scored his 18th goal of the season in the second period to extend his goal streak to five games. It is one shy of the longest such run of his career (six games from Oct. 4-16, 2018).

MacKinnon, who also had an assist, extended his point streak to seven outings. He has seven goals and 11 assists in that span. He has recorded multiple points in each of the last four games and is the the second Avalanche player to record such a feat this season, joining Andre Burakovsky, who had points in four straight outings from Nov. 14-21.

NOTEBOOK

Valeri Nichushkin scored his first-ever short-handed tally in the third period and recorded his fourth game-winning goal of his career, his first since Nov. 8, 2015 at Detroit. The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native now has six points (three goals, three assists) on the season, including three goals and two assists in the past seven outings… Colorado has won its last four visits to Scotiabank Arena and is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games in Toronto... The Avalanche finished the season series against the Maple Leafs with a 1-1-0 record… The Avs improved to 4-1-0 in the first contest of back-to-back sets... Colorado completes the fifth of 12 such back-to-backs this year on Thursday in Montreal. The team is 2-2-0 in the second half of these series… The Avs have scored a power-play goal in three straight games (3-for-10).

QUOTABLE

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer on the win: "I mean they came off a back-to-back, so it was a little bit harder on them. They traveled, tough game for them yesterday. But we knew they were coming out strong, it doesn't matter if they have a back-to-back. We dealt with the waves and we made our push and got the two points."

BIG HIGHLIGHT

Video: COL@TOR: Nichushkin scores SHG in 3rd period

IMAGE OF THE GAME

Thank you, Toronto.

ROSTER REPORT

Matt Calvert returned to the lineup after missing six games with a head injury. He was playing in his first game since Nov. 16 at the Vancouver Canucks and began the game on a line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Valeri Nichushkin… Mark Barberio was the team's lone healthy scratch as Vladislav Kamenev missed the game with an illness… Goaltender Philipp Grubauer started in net.

INJURY UPDATE

Andre Burakovksy (upper body) and Gabriel Landeskog (lower body) practiced with the team at morning skate and both could return to game action on Thursday at Montreal… Vladislav Kamenev missed the game with an illness… Erik Johnson (lower body) is not traveling with the team as he has a lower-body injury… Colin Wilson (lower body) is scheduled to have surgery and is out indefinitely.

UP NEXT

Colorado completes its back-to-back set at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. It is the second outing of a three-game trip for the Avs, who finish the road swing at the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

LINE COMBINATIONS

Based on start of the game

Forwards
96 Mikko Rantanen - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 72 Joonas Donskoi
83 Matt Nieto - 91 Nazem Kadri - 37 J.T. Compher
11 Matt Calvert - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
36 T.J. Tynan - 17 Tyson Jost - 25 Logan O'Connor

Defensemen
27 Ryan Graves - 8 Cale Makar
16 Nikita Zadorov - 49 Samuel Girard
48 Calle Rosen - 28 Ian Cole

Goaltenders
Philipp Grubauer
Pavel Francouz

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