The Colorado Avalanche put together another strong team effort to go 3-0-2 on its five-game homestand and enters the NHL All-Star Break and the team's bye week on a high note.
The Avs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-3 at Pepsi Center on Monday and are riding a five-game point streak, including earning wins in each of their last three outings.
"You want to go out and enjoy the break. I feel like our team was under fire here, warranted or not, a week ago, 10 days ago and here we are. It's a five-game homestand and we went 3-0-2, points in all five," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I think it looks good on our team, they worked hard, they deserve it. We knew we were close in some of those road games and we didn't get rewarded. Some games have been better than others, but for the most part these home games have been pretty good.
"If you look at the teams we played, Dallas, [Pittsburgh], St. Louis, there are some good teams mixed in there that we were able to carve out some points on, so you got too keep doing that. You got to string some wins together and some point streaks together and try second half not to lose two in a row."
Colorado had seven different skaters record multiple points against the Red Wings, led by Nazem Kadri who scored twice and added an assist to register his second three-point outing of the year. It was also the fourth time this campaign that Kadri has found the back of the net twice in a game, tied with Nathan MacKinnon for the most multi-goal games on the team.
Video: DET@COL: Kadri buries nice pass from Burakovsky
MacKinnon also scored twice in the matchup, while Ryan Graves had a goal and a helper. Andre Burakovsky, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Nikita Zadorov each added two assists.
"I think that's the story about our team this year," said Kadri. "You know, having that depth and having other guys step up on any given night, and that's what makes us such a hard team to play against."
The Avalanche outshot Detroit 46-25 in the contest and Pavel Francouz made 22 saves in the outing, his first since Jan. 10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
All five games during this point streak have been on home ice and it extends Colorado's home point streak to six straight outings (4-0-2), dating back to a 7-3 win versus the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2.
"That was much needed, I think. We struggled a little bit at home a few weeks ago and mentally I think that wears on you a little bit as prideful as these guys are," Kadri said. "It takes a toll on you, but we were able to figure it out. We know that if we play the way we can, we're going to give ourselves opportunities to win every single night, so that's our main focus."
Video: DET@COL: Nieto roofs Jost's feed home from the circle
The Avalanche finished the month of January with a 5-2-2 record. After going 8-2-2 in October, 8-6-0 in November and 7-5-2 in December, Colorado has now started a season with four consecutive months above .500 for the first time since 2003-04.
"It seems like whenever we are stringing wins together it is because it is not just one line getting the job done. It is multiple lines," said Bednar. "You can't count on one line because they have an off night then you have to have other guys that will step up. The scoring has been spread around pretty good. I think you see a really solid game out of Cale tonight, the backend, Graves chipping in, we have spread those contribution offensively around quite a bit through the course of the season. I think you are seeing that it pays dividends, that's why we are where we are in the standings."
The Avalanche is entering the break with a 28-15-6 record for 62 points to sit in second in the Central Division and Western Conference. The club trails St. Louis by six points and will play the Blues in the season finale for both teams on April 4 at Pepsi Center.
"We are second in the West. We are a really good team and we definitely have some room to improve, but we are feeling good," said MacKinnon.
"Obviously the team we are chasing is the defending champs," Kadri added. "We give them all the respect in the world. Just, I think when push comes to shove, we definitely have the determination and the commitment and the guys in this dressing room to get the job done."
Video: Nathan MacKinnon after the Avs' win over Detroit
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and now has 30 goals on the season, ranking fourth in the NHL. It is the third consecutive campaign that he has reached the 30-goal mark, joining Joe Sakic (2003-04 to 2006-07) as the only Avalanche skaters (since 1995-96) to accomplish the feat.
"I shoot a lot of pucks, so I have to score. I've had a lot of help," said MacKinnon. "It's nice to be on a really good team, I think that help makes it easy. You get cheesy goals like I did tonight and the empty-netter. So, if you don't win games, you are not going to get those, but that's all about the team doing really well and our depth playing great. Frankie played great and it's nice to win three in a row heading into the break."
Video: DET@COL: MacKinnon pots empty-netter for 30th goal
MacKinnon will not get as long of a break as his teammates, as he will be the team captain of the Central Division at this weekend's All-Star festivities in St. Louis.
"It's fun. Good couple days, fun to represent the Avs and it will be good to get some time off after," MacKinnon said of the league's mid-season event. "This is my fourth time. Just seeing guys and talking to them about their years and their teams, it's fun to catch up with some of the best players in the world."
Video: DET@COL: MacKinnon taps Makar's nice feed past Howard
MAKAR KEEPS CLIMBING
Cale Makar recorded two assists to bring his season total to 37 points (11 goals, 26 assists) and move into a tie with Bruce Bell (Quebec, 1984-85) for the franchise record for points by a rookie defenseman.
It was his seventh multi-point game of the season, matching Bell for the most such outings by a first-year blueliner in a single season in franchise history.
Makar's 37 points leads all rookies, and he ranks second in assists and is tied for third in goals among all first-year skaters.
AFTER THE BREAK
The Avs now have 11 days before their next game, the most amount of days that any team in the NHL has between contests this year. The club will be off nine full days before resuming practice on Jan. 30.
"It's nice, I enjoy it. You can kind of split up the season, give yourself a little bit of a break," Kadri said of the layoff. "Come back reenergized and really get ready for the grind of the season. For us, it is just about getting our minds and our bodies right and come back even better."
The Avs go on a five-game road trip once they return from the break and will not have another home game for three weeks (Feb. 11 versus Ottawa).
Video: Coach Jared Bednar after the Avs' win over Detroit
The Avs are 4-0-0 in afternoon games this season, outscoring the opposition 22-9 in that span. Colorado is 11-3-1 in home afternoon contests since the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
The Avalanche is 12-4-3 against the Eastern Conference this season.
Colorado hosted a game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for the third straight season and the seventh time since moving to Denver. The team is 5-1-1 when playing on MLK Day.
The Avalanche scored six or more goals for the eighth time this season. The Avs' 179 goals and 3.65 goals per game each rank first in the NHL.
Nathan MacKinnon finished with eight shots and has registered at least one shot in 200 consecutive games, joining Joe Sakic as the only two players in franchise history to have a streak of 200-plus games with a shot.
Ryan Graves picked up his fourth multi-point game of the campaign and finished with a plus-2 rating and is now at plus-34 this year, the best plus/minus rating in the league.
Matt Nieto scored his second game-winning goal of the season, matching his career high from his rookie season with San Jose in 2013-14.