LAS VEGAS--Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored two goals for the first time in his career, and the Colorado Avalanche entered the NHL Holiday Break with a 7-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Matt Nieto scored shorthanded in the first period and Nazem Kadri also tallied in a three-goal opening frame for Colorado. Gabriel Landeskog scored on a power play in the second stanza, and Mikko Rantanen also had a man-advantage marker in the third.
Valeri Nichushkin recorded his seventh goal of the season with 3:02 remaining in regulation to complete a Gordie Howe hat trick. He had as assist on Bellemare's second tally at 16:58 of the second period and fought Vegas' Deryk Engelland earlier in the frame.
J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon had two assists each for the Avs, who picked up their second win of the season in Vegas.
Goaltender Pavel Francouz stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced and is now 9-0-1 in his last 12 outings.
Statistics | Photo Gallery | Highlights | Watch: Coach Bednar Postgame
4:37 COL (1-0) - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored from the slot with a backhand shot.
10:23 VGK (1-1) - Ryan Reaves was the last Vegas player to touch the puck after his shot rebounded off the Avs goalie and a defenseman.
14:28 COL (2-1) - SHG, Matt Nieto scored on a breakaway after receiving a pass in the neutral zone from J.T. Compher.
17:35 COL (3-1) - Nazem Kadri put the puck five-hole and it trickled through goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and across the goal line.
11:57 VGK (3-2) - Max Pacioretty scored on his own rebound.
14:06 COL (4-2) - PPG, Gabriel Landeskog's shot from the left side snuck under goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's arm and into the back of the cage.
16:58 COL (5-2) - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare wristed a shot top shelf for his second marker of the game.
2:06 VGK (5-3) - William Carrier buried the rebound after the puck caromed off the end wall.
3:57 COL (6-3) - PPG, Mikko Rantanen shot the puck toward the net, and it went in after being redirected by a defender's stick.
16:53 COL (7-3) - Valeri Nichsuhkin scored his seventh of the season off his visor.
Final: Avalanche - 7 | Golden Knights - 3
- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (COL): Recorded two goals against his former team
- Valeri Nichushkin (COL): Scored, added an assist and had a fight for a Gordie Howe hat trick
- Pavel Francouz (COL): Stopped 29 shots
Selected by AT&T Sportsnet
Colorado: 2 for 5
Vegas: 0 for 1
Colorado: Pavel Francouz denied 29 of the 32 shots he faced
Vegas: Marc-Andre Fleury started the second game of the back-to-back set for the Knights and allowed seven goals on 38 shots
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Avs are 23-11-3 entering the NHL Holiday Break, matching their most wins before the annual break in Colorado history (since 1995-96). It's their third-best points percentage before the break and tied for the second-most points entering the holidays (2013-14, 49 points, .681 points); only the 2000-01 team had better.
Gabriel Landeskog played in his 600th career NHL game and scored his third game-winning goal of the season, tied for the team lead… Former Golden Knight Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was playing in his second game back in Vegas and took the opening faceoff for the Avalanche… Bellemare had two goals, the first time he's scored twice in a game in his NHL career. He now has five points (three goals, two assists) in two games against the Golden Knights this season after producing three points (one goal, two assists) in the first meeting on Oct. 25 at T-Mobile Arena… Matt Nieto tied a career high with his second short-handed goal of the season and sixth of his career… Ian Cole registered an assist and now has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last four games. He now has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) on the season, one more than he had last year… J.T. Compher recorded two assists, tying his career high (five times previously, including three times this year)... Pavel Francouz is now 11-2-1 this season and 9-0-1 in his last 12 games.
Colorado head coach Jared Bednar on the win: "Our guys were doing the right things, so you're going to get rewarded every once and awhile, even if they're not pretty. To be able to make sure that they didn't build too much momentum and come after us I thought was big. The Bellemare line was outstanding tonight. They were a big part in that, holding momentum for us."
Video: COL@VGK: Nieto beats Fleury on shorthanded breakaway
IMAGE OF THE GAME
Happy Landy is our favorite type of Landy.
Pavel Francouz made his 14th start of the season in goal… Mark Barberio and Vladislav Kamenev were the healthy scratches… Colorado mixed up its bottom-six forward lines, with Valeri Nichushkin playing on a line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Matt Calvert while Matt Nieto joined a unit with J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost.
Cale Makar was a full participant at morning skate but missed his eighth straight game with an upper-body injury. The Avs wanted to give the defenseman a few more days to recover so he is completely healthy and comfortable when he returns. Makar is expected to play in Colorado's next game.
The Avalanche, and the rest of the league, will have three days off for the NHL Holiday Break. Colorado returns to action on Friday when it hosts the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. It will be the first half of a back-to-back set as the Avs will play at the Dallas Stars on Saturday.
Based on start of the game
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
95 Andre Burakovsky - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert
17 Tyson Jost - 37 J.T. Compher - 83 Matt Nieto
16 Nikita Zadorov - 49 Samuel Girard
27 Ryan Graves - 6 Erik Johnson
54 Anton Lindholm - 28 Ian Cole
39 Pavel Francouz
31 Philipp Grubauer